Vincy Workplace
August 8, 2014
Take a break, for goodness’ sake

Remember the saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”? If only some of us working professionals would heed that warning. We’ve all met them: people who have so much vacation time accrued at their place of employment that they could take a few months off and still have time left over. In fact, these vacation-phobia people often talk about how long it’s been since they had a vacation like it’s a badge of honour.{{more}} How disturbing is that?

No matter how important you are, you need to take time off. Presidents, prime ministers and CEO’s of large and small nations and companies do it; why can’t you? Your failure to take vacation may be due to one or more of the following.

You truly do not value yourself or the value you bring to the company. You may be a major contributor to the success of the company, but it’s been proven that the body needs regular times of rejuvenation. A vacation offers your mind, body and soul an opportunity to de-stress and cleanse itself temporarily of the toxic people and situations you handle on a daily basis.

You’re stifling your creativity. If you think you are good at what you do, and even when you are exhausted you still produce excellent work, imagine for a moment the improved quality you can achieve after a vacation. Your mind would have had time to rest and recharge itself to peak performance. But when you get satisfied with the results you produce when you are running close to empty, you limit yourself and your ability to truly produce excellence.

You may be addicted. Have you considered the possibility that your addiction may be work? Some people choose substances, while others choose work. The job or career is a means of escape from a reality at home that they would rather not face. Whether it’s loneliness or the responsibilities of family, work offers temporary solace from the pain of dealing with that situation, whatever it may be. For some people, they get a level of respect, admiration and praise that is absent from family and friends and work fills that need, so they would rather stay working at all cost.

You pressure your co-workers. Your decision to work yourself to death does not mean that your co-workers are any less committed to their jobs. Your inability to unwind often affects the “normal” people around you who do value their life and family. So, you work all week and holidays, but it’s unrealistic to expect the same level of insanity from your co-workers, especially if you hide behind the title of manager or supervisor. The department, office or store will not fall apart in your absence— it would probably run smoother. Although you may feel irreplaceable, that could be because people know you are a reliable, but annoying person and feel pity for you, so they give you the work or they slack off because they know your type, so to speak.

If you find yourself in this category, you might not know what to do with your time. Start with a half day. Try to do something fun, take a short trip, visit a friend you’ve lost touch with or volunteer with the elderly or youths if you have alienated all your friends. Leave your cell phone, tablet and computer at home. Then work your way up to a day or two and eventually a week, but make it a regular activity and schedule it ahead of time. It will feel foreign at first, but you will be surprised at how great you will feel once you get the hang of it.

As a recovering workaholic, a recent trip home to the Caribbean island of St Vincent and the Grenadines brought me face to face with the ridiculous expectations I’ve had of myself and others all in the name of success. Taking a break simply means you are sensible enough to recognize that striving for excellence should not mean forfeiting the time we all need to rest and rejuvenate ourselves.

Karen Hinds is “The Workplace Success Expert.” For a
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