All By Myself – Without the Guilt

Do you dream of having time to clear your head and get away, even for a little while? But then you immediately think about all the things you need to do:
Family | Work | Home Projects

We’ve all been there, trying to please everyone and get everything done without letting things fall through the cracks. But are you so overwhelmed that you feel as though you will never get off the treadmill of life? And if you do disembark from the “everyday,” things will fall apart, and at least one person will be unhappy.

If this is you, it’s time to change your mindset and think about WHY you feel guilty about taking time for yourself. When you think about allowing yourself to reach the point of overload and on the road to burnout, wouldn’t you be “dropping at least one ball” anyway if your health (mentally and physically) suffers?

And at that point, are you the person you want to be for your family and coworkers?

It’s time to think about why you shame yourself, especially when you feel jealous of those who take that time for self-care. When contemplating taking an hour for yourself and that guilt rushes over you, ask yourself why.
  • Does time for yourself cause you to fall behind at work? If so, it may be time, if you're already working a full day, to evaluate if there are areas you can delegate or eliminate. For a week, keep a timeline of the tasks you manage so that you can assess where some of the gaps may be.
  • Are there people in your life who constantly drain your time? This behavior may not be intentional, but if they're used to having on-demand access, it may be time for an open conversation about how it's affecting you personally.
  • Do you feel that anytime you sit still, its time wasted? For instance, you could organize a pantry during the 30 minutes you took to read a book. But consider what would benefit you personally.

Wouldn’t a time out regularly give you time to clear your head and do something you enjoy?

Is this new thought pattern scary? Start slowly and begin building “me time” into your schedule. It may mean getting up early when things are quiet or breaking the habit of eating lunch at your desk and taking it outside or to a quiet room to read while you eat.

The Word NO

Learn How to Use That Word Nicely

Are you the first to raise your hand to take on a new project at work? That’s great, but first, consider your current workload. It’s tough to back out of additional work once you’ve committed your time and unless it’s a career game-changer, take a step back on that next, “Yes, I can do that.”

Do you have a friend who can’t make decisions without your input? Be honest and let them know you care about their needs but are practicing self-care so that you can be a better person.

Once you’ve used the word no, do your best to push away the guilt. Instead, think about how refreshed you will be for those who need you.

Check out our previous blog: Learn the Art of Saying NO.

Your New Freedom

Test it Out

Create an appointment on your calendar and stick to it. Don’t let something distract you from that downtime unless it’s an emergency.

Put down the phone and set it to “Do not disturb.” On most phones, you can choose people to allow to get through, but before that, have a conversation to let them know about your downtime.

Downtime doesn’t necessarily mean you need to sit still.

You can:
  • Learn a new skill or language
  • Exercise – which is great for you physically and mentally
  • Get your nails done – you’ll feel better about yourself

If someone pressures you to help with something, be HONEST and explain that you need to commit yourself. It’s most likely they will understand and may even relate.

Share notes on your new awareness and get others on the self-care kick so you can back each other up.

Remember, practicing self-care can be difficult at first, but once you incorporate it into your daily routine, it will become second nature, and you may find you’re more productive in the “must dos” at work and home.
What will you do with your “me time?”
How about listening to a pastime favorite.

Is Taking a Vacation a Sin?

If you rarely take time off from work, will you move up the corporate ladder quicker as an employee? Possibly. But is that your perception of how your boss thinks? Or is it the pressure you put on yourself?
On the other side of the coin, are you an employer who subtly favors employees who never utilize the time provided as a benefit from your company? Or, do you realize the advantages of a break from the office to recharge?

For the Employee

Dedicated employees want to succeed, and if you’re with a strong company, there is internal competition. You shouldn’t always consider that negative because healthy competition is healthy, especially if leadership inspires camaraderie where support among the team is a natural celebration.

Are you the team member who never takes their allotted vacation and even works on holidays when others spend time alone outside of the office or with their family? Does your counterpart take their vacation and come back recharged and doesn’t miss a beat? Does your internal self think that there must be a trick?

Are they:
  • Taking work with them
  • Keeping in touch with the office daily
  • Faking it and then silently freaking out when they return
It’s difficult to fake a lighthearted, recharged mood, so the answer to the above scenarios is most likely NO.
You, too, can be that person. Do you wonder how you can accomplish this if you’re so busy? You can do it with practice and upfront planning.
  • Before submitting your “time-off” request, check with your immediate supervisor to see if they have any conflicts with that proposed time, especially if you’re in a leadership role. If you’ve been with the company a while, you’ll know the ebbs and flows of incoming work, so think about that before approaching them. Of course, if there’s a conflict and your request is related to a family emergency or life event, the decision has to be yours – no guilt involved.
  • Work closely in advance with other team members who will be “carrying the weight” in your absence. Bring them up-to-speed on outstanding items, so the service you provide is seamless.
  • Alert your customers or clients in advance that you’ll be out for a specific period. Give them a heads up to who will be their temporary point person.
The goal is that you feel free to go “do your thing” without worry. And, the benefit to the company is that you’ll come back revived.
And if planned correctly, you won’t have a stack of work on your desk when you return.

For the Employer

How can you help facilitate a non-fear of taking vacation atmosphere? FOSTER IT! When you encourage your employees to take advantage of their time off, you benefit in several ways:
  • Happy Employees – #1 Reason
  • More productive workforce as they know they can be highly effective with the ability to plan a recharge without fear of recourse.
  • A happy team that works together knows if they “cover the fort” for a colleague, they will do the same when they need to take a break.

It’s difficult not to openly push the team to continue moving forward when working in a fast-paced environment. When you walk around with the subtle praise of anyone who bypasses allotted vacation time, you get the reverse reaction and may never know it. If employees fear they will lose their job because they’re “human,” they may be physically present but not fully there mentally. Don’t risk a lack of productivity because you cannot let your team take a break. Remember, it’s easy to look busy with no positive outcome.

How Can You Help?
It’s easy! If you follow some of the suggestions below, you’ll be set up for success and will look like the leader you should be to your team.
  • Encourage vacation and instill the values of advance notice. BUT, understand sometimes circumstances need to be spontaneous as life happens. It’s your job to have systems in place to accommodate last-minute requests.
  • Set up cross-training exercises so that every individual is comfortable leaving for a week, or two, knowing that all is under control. And VERY IMPORTANT if it can be managed, make it so the employee can come back to a clean (or semi-clean) desk. Getting out of the office for a period of time knowing how much work is waiting for them can be incredibly counterproductive.
  • Celebrate people who recharge and if you have the capability or connections, use your resources to offer discounts or advice on destinations that will fit their budget, even if it’s a local “staycation.”
Both employees and employers need to recharge without stress. The experience can be rewarding with proper planning and increase loyalty to the company and its respective teams.