If the very idea of a day off seems like a joke, and work-life balance a fairytale, it’s time to reassess your schedule. Of course, the problem with working too much is that it’s a self-perpetuating cycle: once you’re used to working all the time, any time you spend on non-job-related activities feels like goofing off. Also, you’re probably so burned out, you’re no longer as productive as you once were, either. So what do you need to do to have a life again?
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Start by changing your thinking. Repeat any of the following, as necessary, until their message sinks in:
1. My job doesn’t own me.
Your boss might be used to having you on call, but unless carrying the office Batphone is part of your contract, you don’t actually have to be available 24/7. (You’re certainly not being paid to be available 24 hours a day. If you want to get depressed, average out your salary over the hours you’re actually working. All of a sudden, last year’s cost-of-living increase, if any, looks a lot less helpful.)
Even surgeons and EMTs get time off. If they didn’t, we’d hear a lot more horror stories about bad care related to exhausted medical staff. Pick some time to turn off, and stick to it. Just because you can get email on your phone, doesn’t mean you have to check it every five minutes.
2. I am not the only one who can solve the problem.
“An editor at the Chicago Sun-Times once said that he couldn’t take time off. He was afraid the place would fall apart without him – and he was terrified it wouldn’t,” writes Joel Peterson at LinkedIn. “If you think the universe depends on you, you’re headed for a high-stress breakdown. Hire people who will do a better job than you ever could, and then celebrate their successes, get out of their way and recharge your batteries regularly.”
3. I deserve to have a life.
Unless you have an absolutely horrible boss, this might be the single biggest obstacle standing between you and work-life balance. If worse comes to worst, think about it this way: taking time off makes you a better worker. You need rest in order to stave off burnout and do your job well. Really, you’re doing it for the company.
Tell Us What You Think
Do you find it hard to take time off? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.