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Why Time Off Work Improves Your Performance

Author: Darius Foroux Source:

What do you do when you feel tired or overwhelmed? Do you power through? Or do you take some time off?

In the past, I thought that you should always power through — no matter what. Now, I still think that way when it comes to life in general. You can’t quit taking care of yourself and your family.

A sense of responsibility is one of the most powerful motivators in life. But I’m not talking about a lack of motivation here.

I’m talking about taking time off work. But there’s still a massive taboo on taking time off. Some people think it’s for losers. Others think it’s about escaping your work.

After all, “If you love your work and life, why do you even need a break?”

Good point, smart ass. Here’s why time off actually IMPROVES your work and life.

Leonard Mlodinow, a physicist, who also co-authored two books with Stephen Hawking, recently shared scientific research in his book Elastic about taking time off. He demonstrates that taking time off work improves our well-being:

“Though some may consider “doing nothing” unproductive, a lack of downtime is bad for our well-being, because idle time allows our default network to make sense of what we’ve recently experienced or learned.”

People who never take time off to do nothing are short-term focused. “I want to reach my goals! NOW!”

But as always, short-term thinking harms your long-term development and growth. What happens when you power through work and burn yourself out? In most instances, your results suffer, and you become less productive.

In some cases, you even become depressed — which will set you back even longer. 

Prevent Rather Than Cure

It’s one of the biggest clichés in the book. But how often do we really prevent things? Instead, we put our head down and, “deal with it later.”

Bad strategy. Instead, it’s much better to prevent burn-out or a decrease in your overall work performance.

Dale Carnegie, a self-help pioneer, and author of How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, said it best:

“So, to prevent fatigue and worry, the first rule is: Rest often. Rest before you get tired.”

So take time off work strategically throughout the year. That’s what I just did too, and I experienced 5 benefits as a consequence:

1. You Can Check Whether You Did The Right Things

At work, I know two modes:

  1. Execution

  2. Thinking

When you are in execution mode, you can work for hours, days or months in a row. In fact, I know people who’ve been in execution mode for years.

They never took time off to reflect or think about their work. Result? A midlife crisis. Or, young folks who experience a quarter-life crisis.

That’s what you get when you put your head down and execute without thinking.

You might get results. But are those results what you WANT?

When you take time off work, you have more inner-conversations. But when you execute, you don’t.

That’s one of the most important benefits of doing nothing. Sure, you might fall behind on work. But who cares? Would you rather go through your career with tunnel vision?

I need at least ten days off to reflect seriously. For the first five days, I’m still somewhere between execution and thinking mode. It’s hard to switch to thinking and doing nothing if you’re used to doing work.

But I always learn new things about myself after a more extended break. I tend to read a lot. Over the past two weeks, I’ve read five books. But I didn’t write at all. Also, I journaled very little.

Just some reading, watching movies, documentaries, hanging out with friends, talking, daydreaming. That kind of stuff. Neither does it cost much. But the return is enormous.

Now, I feel better, have more energy, and I’m excited to get back to work. That’s also the next lesson I learned.


#Vacation #TimeManagement #TimeOff #Efficiency #Career #CareerAdvice

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