This is something that has been on my mind a lot lately, and with a long weekend upon us it feels like the perfect time to remind ourselves of the importance of taking time off.
I recently came across this Q and A with Katrina Onstad, author of “The Weekend Effect: The Life Changing Benefits of Taking Time Off and Challenging the Cult of Overwork“. In it she talks about the importance of taking free time.
Time is one of our most important commodities. However, being so connected and so available in the “gig economy” means that the boundaries between work and rest are becoming increasingly blurred. I am totally guilty of turning on the tv, settling into the couch with my e-mail open, blackberry flashing and losing hours in a blur of half work/half rest. That doesn’t leave me feeling relax, rested or productive.
This doesn’t just apply to our work either. We’ve all had weekends that leave us simply exhausted. In Katrina’s Q and A she talks about almost being relieved when Monday arrived, because the weekends were wiping her out. But it was this response that really stood out to me:
“We need to look at this as a public health issue. Overworked and burnt-out employees are less productive, make more mistakes, are less happy, have more mental health issues, and so on. The risk of stroke among employees who work 55 or more hours per week is 33 per cent higher than those working a 35- or 40-hour week, for example.”
I realize that there will be times when we need to carve out hours in the evenings and the weekends to dedicate to our work (professional or personal). That’s totally okay. What’s important is that we’re paying attention. It’s so easy to lose weeks in a haze of work and errands. So before we get this weekend started, I encourage you to think about how you’re going to tackle your to-do’s. If you have work to do, review and prioritize your list (how much of this can wait til Tuesday?) and book time when you will sit down and actually get it done. Treat it like a meeting and lean on your own tips to help you focus and be productive (btw – it looks like it’s going to rain all day Sunday… rainy days are perfect work/errand days!). Then, when that time is up and you’re done (or mostly done) step away. Stop thinking about work, or to-do lists. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
I’ve encountered a few people this week who have no set plans for the weekend and we’ve all talked about how wonderful and exciting that is. So this weekend, prioritize yourself – have some unstructured time, read a book, catch up on Netflix, go for a walk… whatever it is that helps you unwind. I’ll bet you walk into work on Tuesday feeling refreshed, productive and ready to have an amazing (short!) week.
Happy long weekend!