How to take time off: part one
Nobody needs a study to tell them that time off is good for you. What people do need help with, however, is deciding how to use that time off most effectively. To that end, here are five definitive and productive ways to take a break (and no, there’s no reason you can’t try them all).
- Reading or thinking weeks. This idea, made famous by Bill Gates, is all about absorbing information and looking forward. You take one (or two if you are lucky enough) weeks per year off in which you read intensively both around and outside of your area of expertise. Bill Gates, for example, would read papers written by his employees about the future direction of Microsoft. This week is not about fixing your current problems, it’s about moulding where you or your company will go next.
- One-day reboot. A recent CareerBuilder survey found that, last year, almost a third of workers called in sick despite not actually being ill. This isn’t best practice of course, but not everyone has an understanding boss. Every now and then you need a personal day. No agenda, no work. Just time to get life back in order. If you have a holiday booking system, like Turbine, consider booking a single day off every couple of months over the next year. Knowing you have them there can really take the pressure off.
- Email holidays. “We found that when you remove email from workers’ lives, they multitask less and experience less stress,” said UCI informatics professor Gloria Mark. Research has shown that having a five-day break from email can not only boost productivity, but actually improve your health. This is not always practical in a modern working environment, but it is possible. ‘Out of the office’ replies don’t just have to be for when you are out of the office: schedule some non-email days once in a while and close your inbox. If something is truly urgent, there’s always the phone.
- Artist dates. This is a concept started by Julia Cameron, and it is not just for artists. The idea is that once a week you do something that will enchant you. Take yourself on a date and refuel your mind with something new, different and exciting. This doesn’t even have to use up your holiday allowance. Perhaps work a little late one day so that you can take a long lunch the next.
- Seven-year sabbatical cycle. For most people this might be a long shot, but it’s a concept worth bearing in mind. Taking a long, and entirely adventurous break every now and then is good for getting some perspective and finding new motivations. It’s better to take the time to evaluate where you are and how you are getting to where you want to be every few years, rather than reaching retirement full of regrets. Take a look at Stefan Sagmeister’s TED talk if you still need convincing:
Clare Dodd on January 28, 2013