Why You Should Always Have Time Off From Work Scheduled
Use your vacation time even if you’re not going on vacation
I took this week off from work, knowing that I would not be going anywhere. A few of my co-workers asked me what my plans were for my vacation, and I told them that I didn’t have any.
It’s kind of funny that there is an expectation that taking time off of work needs to be for some grand trip, or a proper staycation or home renovation at the very least.
My co-worker didn’t seem too impressed by my plans, and that conversation kind of fizzled out. However, having time off from work can be beneficial in numerous ways. How you choose to fill that time off is immaterial.
What I wanted to do with my time off
I did have somewhat of a plan going into this time off. I’m in the middle of writing a novel and find myself growing impatient with how slowly it has been coming along. Therefore, I planned to get a large chunk of it written during the day while my family was attending virtual school.
Unfortunately, I came down with a migraine headache on Monday, which was still lingering on Friday morning. This put quite a damper on my plans, but I still managed to add 3,500 words to my work in progress during this time, which was enough for me to feel accomplished.
In addition to working on my novel, I was also able to publish three pieces this week on Medium, so the week was not a complete bust from a creative standpoint.
The benefit of having time off
I’ve read studies in the past that stated that you should always have time off scheduled. They have shown that people with scheduled vacations to look forward to are more likely to be happy than those without any.
I’ve tried to always have time off scheduled since hearing this, and it makes perfect sense. That is why it doesn’t matter to me what I am doing on my week off, just as long as I have that time off to look forward to.
I’ve heard people brag about how little time they took off from work, but in my opinion, that doesn’t seem like something that is worth bragging about. There is a certain mindset that equates foregoing any vacation time with being a hard worker, but people who think like this are missing out.
The other reason that they might not be taking as much time off as they should is that they don’t have the money to travel anywhere, so they just keeping working, and before they know it, a year has passed without any scheduled time off.
We all have good and bad weeks at work. Just think how much better it is to know after a bad week: “Well, at least I have that vacation time coming up.” Can you see how this can be a very beneficial psychological tool to be able to call upon when things get stressful at work?
I’m free to do whatever I want
There is something refreshing about having a period of time off without expectations. I spent the first couple of days of vacation working on my landscaping. I didn't plan it but was walking by a monstrous and out-of-place Rose of Sharon bush and decided that I finally had the time to dig it out and replace it.
My wife helped me with this task, and my kid even wanted to put on some children’s gardening gloves and “help” dig in the dirt and look for worms. It was tough work, but it was fun.
We accomplished a great deal and scored some great deals on more appropriately sized plants as they were half-off at the hardware store since it’s the end of the gardening season.
Some people might not view this as a good use of free time, but for someone who gets anxious when the tasks start to pile up, crossing stuff off the list is a relief that is well worth the effort. This is something that had been bothering me because it was so close to the house and garage and had the potential to do damage to them with its strong and invasive roots.
If you want to travel then find a way
I’m not saying that you should always take off work and not do anything. The point of this is to emphasize the importance of taking time off throughout the year. If there is somewhere that you would like to go, I’d highly encourage you to make it happen.
I traveled cross-country while unemployed, and a few years ago, we vacationed at Disney World for less than $1,800 for the entire trip. I have never been on a vacation that I regretted and have always found a way to make it work.
When you look back on your life, do you think you are going to remember that extra week you worked or that trip you took to see the ocean? We’ve taken trips to some under-the-radar places like Traverse City, MI, and North Conway, NH. But whether we were taking a well-planned cruise to the Bahamas or a weekend getaway in Cleveland, all of these experiences have been enjoyable and added great value to our lives.
Unplanned moments can be the best
Last night, I was upstairs in the office playing guitar. I was trying to learn “Farmhouse” by Phish, when the next thing I knew, my daughter busts in and starts singing along with me. I was impressed by this cuteness overload, so I had her go downstairs with me to put on a little show for my wife. It was a great time, and it was completely spontaneous.
Since I had no plans, my week off was filled with many more wonderful unplanned moments:
- We finally learned how to use our popcorn machine and watched Hocus Pocus for the first time.
- We took a ride out to see the fall foliage.
- We picked up Chinese food and went for a picnic at a beautiful park.
- We went for a hike after the picnic and discovered a new path along a gorge.
- We had a dance party to 80s music.
- We walked around random neighborhoods to see all the cool Halloween decorations.
- We played Yahtzee and Candyland.
- We practiced kicking field goals and punting a football for my daughter’s gym homework.
- I taught her how to play baseball with a plastic bat and whiffle ball. She hit the ball and ran around, while still holding the bat and looked like she was going to whack me with it when I went to tag her. I told her that I don’t watch much baseball, but I don’t think that is allowed.
Go ahead and use that time off
If you’re reading this and you haven’t had a break since quarantine started, then go ahead and use that time off. You earned it, and you owe it to yourself to take a break and recharge.
It doesn’t matter what that break looks like, whether it’s filled to the brim with fun activities or completely devoid of any deadlines or responsibilities. The important thing is that you take some time off from the daily grind and do stuff that you find enjoyable, whether that’s sleeping in, reading a book, or just going for a car ride.
You can spend time alone, or you can treat your loved ones to a nice meal on a patio somewhere. Just remember that all work and no play is not good for you. That phrase makes me think of The Shining every time I hear it, and you don’t want to end up overworked and looking like the main character at the end of that film.
Once you have that nice week off scheduled, try to remember it next time something unfavorable happens at work. Use it to your advantage to help you get through the unavoidable tough times we all face in our employment.
I hope that you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed having the necessary time off of work to write it.