I recently had to attend a funeral. If there was a silver lining, it was that I was able to catch-up and reminisce with people who I haven’t seen in some time. While chatting with a friend, he told me that he took work off, not only the day of the funeral but also the day after. He explained how emotionally exhausted he was, and he also hadn’t used much of his PTO days. In his mind, he earned those days and decided to use them for a valid reason. Consequently, he had absolutely zero guilt about taking the days off from work. But, there are other reasons you should take the day off from work.
Entrepreneurs, however, don’t always feel that luxury. Sure. If you’re hired correctly and knew how to delegate, then taking time off shouldn’t be an issue. At the same time, entrepreneurs also struggle with turning work “off” or giving up even the smallest amount of control to others. We also tend to believe that we possess the superpower to work 80 hours per week without any repercussions.
The reality is that everyone occasionally should take the day off from work. Obviously, this shouldn’t become a habit. However, everyone, including the mighty entrepreneur, could — and should — use a day to themselves. Trust me. Whatever you’ve built won’t come crashing down in just one day. But, if you still need a little nudge, here are seven reasons why you should have a day off work.
There’s a legitimate reason.
For some entrepreneurs, there is never a legitimate reason. Even the thought of a reasonable basis to take off is, frankly, unbelievable. But, sometimes there are more important priorities than work. You may be physically ill and bedridden. There are also unexpected events like funerals or taking care of a sick family member. You may also need the day to attend to your own well-being, like doctor’s appointments. Sometimes you just need a day to catch-up on household chores or errands. And, if you’re moving, then you need time to pack and unpack.
Moreover, you may need to take a mental health day to cope with losing a loved one or addressing a personal matter like going through a breakup. Consider the research that’s found that entrepreneurs are 50 percent more likely to report having a mental health condition — and playing hooky may help curb this crisis for you.
However, mental health days should be used occasionally. Again, taking the day off following a funeral or managing work-life stressors isn’t a bad idea. But, if you’re struggling with depression or substance abuse, then you definitely should speak with a therapist instead of just calling “out” from work.
You’re feeling burned out.
Instead of just ignoring burnout and forging ahead, take a day to yourself and address this. If you don’t, you’ll start to miss deadlines, deliver subpar work, and forget goals. You may also experience mood changes and put your health in jeopardy. When putting all issues together, these can affect relationships and even force you to close your business.
Skipping work for the day won’t magically fix all of your problems. But, even a short break can do wonders for your physical and mental health.
You can’t remember the last time you had a day off.
When was the last time you did something that wasn’t work-related? When was your last vacation? If you have to look at your calendar to answer these simple questions, then it’s definitely time for you to go on a brief sabbatical.
I can’t stress this enough. Life is more than just work. So, cut yourself some slack and enjoy life.
You don’t have any upcoming vacations planned.
Speaking of vacations, they’re not just fun. They’re actually good for your health. It’s been found that vacations can lower stress and lessen the risk of coronary heart disease or heart attacks. Holidays can also help you feel calmer and improve your mood and quality of sleep. As if that weren’t enough, getting away can improve family relationships, decreases burnout, and improves your focus and productivity. Even just the act of planning a vacation can make you happier.
If you don’t have any upcoming trips scheduled in your calendar, then taking a day off from work can at least give you a temporary reprieve. Your staycation may not be as exciting as an exotic getaway. But, it does give you the chance to attend to your well-being or catch-up on some much-needed rest.
It breaks up the week.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that we have to work five days a week. However, studies have found that a 4-day work week results in a more engaged, loyal, and productive staff. But, if this isn’t possible to implement at your business, then taking a personal day can be a compromise.
Not only does it encourage you to increase your output to miss a day of the week, but it also gives you something to look forward to. And, it also breaks up the monotony. Sometimes we need to shake things up to get out of a rut or get those creative juices flowing again.
You’ll have the “park” to yourself.
Like most people, I can’t stand going to theme parks during peak travel seasons. If I go somewhere like Disney, it’s usually offseason. The main reason is that the park isn’t as crowded, which means shorter lines and less stressful experience.
Skipping work on a Tuesday or Wednesday has a similar benefit. Personally, I love doing errands like grocery shopping, getting an oil change, or getting my hair done during the middle of the week. It’s not as crowded, so I breeze through these chores.
As an entrepreneur — you are already up early. Hit the 24-hour grocery store at 6 a.m., and you’ll complete a monthly shop in 30 minutes if you have a list. Even if I want to take a day trip, grab lunch with a friend, hike, or take a class for self-development, things are much quieter in the middle of the week.
Taking time off actually increases your productivity.
For some, this may seem counterproductive. After all, how can you be more productive when you’re not at work?
Well, taking time off allows you to replenish the resources that have been drained. “There is a lot of research that says we have a limited pool of cognitive resources,” Allison Gabriel, an assistant professor of management at Virginia Commonwealth University, told Entrepreneur. “When you are constantly draining your resources, you are not as productive as you can be. If you get depleted, we see performance decline. You’re able to persist less and have trouble solving tasks.”
Additionally, time away from work can help spark creativity, develop new perspectives, and process ideas. Furthermore, the occasional break from work can help you focus and reduce stress.
How to take the day off from work without feeling guilty.
While there are plenty of reasons for being absent at work for the day, you still might have some remorse. To help ease your guilt, here are some pointers to help you overcome this feeling.
Pick the right day.
Unless it’s a last-minute emergency, be selective when taking a day off. Ideally, you should pick a day where there isn’t much going on. Don’t skip work on the day there’s a presentation with investors or if you’re in the middle of a product release — this would cause chaos. Stressing yourself, or your team isn’t a good idea.
Go through your calendar and see when you’ll have the availability to play hokey. Also, consult your team’s shared calendar. It’s a simple way to make sure that you aren’t taking off the same day as too many other members of your organization.
Cover the bases.
After identifying the day that you want to take off, make sure to dot your I’s and cross your t’s. At the minimum, this means completing your priorities in advance and delegating other responsibilities to the right people. You should also block out the date in your calendar so that others can see that you’ll be unavailable. You may also want to give your inner circle a head’s up, but I think an out-of-office email response will suffice.
Regardless if you’re violently ill or just need a mental health day, you do not need to explain yourself. Just say that you have a stomach bug or that you’re just taking a personal day.
Also, stay off social media. No one wants to hear the graphic details of your aliment. Or, if playing hooky and spending the day doing something fun for once. A caution: posting updates on your Ferris Bueller-type day may make you seem unprofessional. It may also rub people the wrong way and influences the relationships in your life. Besides, taking a break from social media is also good for your health.
Make the most of your day.
Don’t spend the day vegging out on the couch watching movies all day. Not only will you feel crummy that you wasted your day off, but it’s also not a productive use of your time — unless you are legit bedridden.
While you don’t need to overdo it, spend this day catching up on sleep, reading a book, spending time with loved ones, or doing something that you enjoy. The whole point of taking a day off is to relax and have some fun. If you do, you won’t feel as bad about ditching work.
Give yourself a break.
Finally, remind yourself that you need the occasional day off from work. Although it is never easy for workaholics to give themselves a day off — you need to keep in mind that you need this break. High productivity comes out of self-care. If you want to remain productive and on top — take a day off here and there.
Keep assuring yourself that a day off is not the end of the world. If you don’t show up to your workplace for one day every once in a while, it’s okay. When you show up tomorrow, dive-in to the deep end and work like crazy — and you’ll find that everything is precisely how you left it.