Taking time off: Why it increases productivity

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Here is something that I have learned over the years: taking time off and stepping away from your business and/or work is crucial to being successful.

Since I was 14 and old enough to get a work permit, I’ve been working. I spent my summers working 50+ hours at a local greenhouse and catering on the weekends. It was great money, lots of fun and showed me the ropes of learning how to run a business.  Within a year, I had proven myself to my bosses who had put so much faith in me that they allowed me to manage certain aspects of their business— all before graduating high school.  I had so much drive and determination to succeed that before I knew it, I forgot to have a life and live life as a normal teenager. Not to say that my life as a teenager was not fun, but I worked… a lot. Instead of taking time off and going out on weekends, I was filling in shifts at work. In my mind, if I wasn’t working, I wasn’t succeeding.

Fast forward to today: Many of those early workaholic traits have showed up in my work habits today. I’m always working and if I’m not working, I’m thinking up the next big idea for a client or way to grow my business.  Unfortunately, I think that if my mind is resting, I’m not being productive. If I’m not on my feet, I’m not checking things off of my task list. Even in my personal life, if I take a minute or two to sit down and breathe, those dishes aren’t getting done. I’m quite sure many of you can relate to what I’m saying. Lately I’ve been on overload and my mind hasn’t shut down. I just feel so busy that I don’t have time to stop.

But I realized something the other day; I realized that while my intent was to have a productive day- I was actually being counter-productive. I spent most of my time trying to sort through the messes I made on my desk with my many sticky notes of ideas, while answering emails, phone calls and researching the next idea I had before the other one had a chance to succeed. I finally realized that I needed to just stop and walk away.  So I did. The rest of the afternoon was spent doing things that I wanted to do. I went and got coffee, read the paper and even managed to go to the art museum. I even came home after picking up the boys from school and decided not to cook. As for the dishes— well, one day in the sink won’t kill them… or me!

One of my favorite places to rejuvenate: Asheville, North Carolina
One of my favorite places to rejuvenate: Asheville, North Carolina

It’s important to take time away for yourself and remember that you need time away to unplug and decompress (hopefully you realize that before you get overwhelmed like me). You won’t be any good to yourself or your business if you are constantly on overload, easily distracted and moving on to the next thing before the previous thing had a chance to fully brew.  Not to mention, taking time away can actually SAVE you time. It’s like a buy one get one! You probably waste a day by being on overload and by not working efficiently.  So why not take a day off and get the day back that you are wasting by not taking a day off? Something to ponder….

 Here are some other reasons why it’s important to take time off:

 1. It’s crucial for your health: taking time off has been proven to greatly reduce stress and be good for your health. As we know, stress can take its toll on you and increase your chances of heart disease, high blood pressure and weight gain, among many other things.

2. It increases creativity: believe it or not, taking time away gives us a chance to reconnect with ourselves and help with the rediscovery of who we are and what our goals are.

3. Less likely to get burned out: Too much of something isn’t always a good thing. Taking time away helps us from getting burned out from the thing we love.

4. You’re less likely to get distracted: You know all of those shiny things that you are always distracted by? Spend a day and get distracted intentionally or have a day dedicated to working on new ideas so it doesn’t interfere with the days you are trying to be productive.

5. Increased job performance: having time off or taking a vacation leads to a better quality of life which can have a profound effect on your work life and increase your desire to work harder.