More Time Off Equals More Productivity and More Happiness

8f544f28-9429-4a11-908e-0bf31e73a802I hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend. It’s amazing how the Tuesday after a three-day weekend blasts off for me. This little break got me thinking about how I seem to get better results faster after even a half day away being mostly focused on work.

Most Monday mornings it takes caffeine and extra motivation to get my wheels spinning at full speed. It’s definitely much better than when I had a boss and a commute, but Mondays are still Mondays, not Fridays.

See how different you feel just reading the word ‘Monday’ versus the word ‘Friday’ or ‘Tuesday’? ‘Monday’ kind of makes you take a deep breath and your chest may get a little constricted – even when you love your job. ‘Friday’ makes you smile and exhale and think of decompressing with free time and people you enjoy (and may not get to see enough). If you’re thinking how nice it will be to catch up on work emails over the weekend, you’re doing it wrong.

It’s not surprising that Mondays carry the most stress for many of us and most arrhythmias and heart attacks happen on Monday mornings. So why not make Monday the third day of the weekend every week?

Imagine if every weekend was a three-day weekend: You’d start off refreshed on Tuesday morning, lower your chances of having a heart attack, and actually be more productive. Hey, even the Harvard Business Review and science believe that more time off and going on vacations are good for your business – as well as for your soul (and your relationships).

It’s good to remember that being at work for long hours doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily increasing productivity. In fact, shifting our venues through walking meetings and taking time to relax and not think about work has become a proven way to have breakthrough ideas. Getting out of the forest helps us to see the trees more clearly sometimes. Clarity comes from gaining perspective. And perspective is improved with distance.

Taking time off is essential in our current fast-paced climate of startup culture, who are generally founded and run by people who overwork themselves – and therefore push for more work hours from their employees.

When you never take “down time” you’re also more likely to burn out or be depressed. To the point previously made, both of these issues are on the rise for founders, in particular. What’s the point of working so hard if you don’t have time to enjoy your life – or if the accumulated work hours affect your health or ends your life prematurely?

As you dive into this shorter work week, please reflect on whether you end up accomplishing as much or more this week than you did last week with a full work week. Even if you can’t take every Monday off, take more vacations and time off to be a more happy and productive person. Full disclosure – I’m not very good at creating this kind of downtime so this post is advice for me as much as anyone else.

There’s no point to offering unlimited vacation time to employees if no one feels like they can safely take time off.  If you are a leader in your company; lead by example and take a half day once in a while to go golfing, kayaking, fishing, hiking – whatever – with your team. You deserve to be refreshed when you’re working and to live a longer and happier life, and so do your people.

The evidence is in: You’ll get a lot more out of your employees than extra work hours spent napping in the company’s “quiet room” if you instead mandate regular personal time so that they reboot their brains and bodies.

Just a thought now that my head is screwed back on after 3 much-needed days off. I’ve already out-performed my typical Monday – and I’m looking forward to a great week!

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