From The Desk: Why Taking Two Weeks Off Work Can Change Your Life

July 25, 2016

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Consider today’s post a path to recovery or as I like to say – workaholics anonymous.

This past weekend I spent most of my day by the pool and enjoying dinners with friends. Something before my Eurotrip seemed to be clouded with thoughts of work, mounting to-do lists and work back plans leading to a half-present me and a fully present bitterness towards my job turned life.

Then, I said F%@k this and took two weeks off and went to Europe.

The rash decision came at the height of being overworked underappreciated and showed clear symptoms that were infecting everything from my friendships, (this blog) and even my involuntary attitude at work – I was turning into a monster and my only antidote, a Eurotrip!

Vacation was long overdue and with Summer vacation vibes in full effect, I needed time away to reset. As we know – being a PR girl isn’t always easy. In fact taking time off doesn’t isn’t easy for anyone. The request and glares from bosses, the week before sh!tstorm that almost makes you cave and not go… being a suffering workaholic was real.

However, my recent time away gave me plenty of perspective to spot the symptoms of burning out, the skills for recovery and how to apply the lessons, goals and new priorities that seem to be uncovered after spending two weeks out of the office and enjoying an amazing vacation.

THE SYMPTOMS OF BURNING OUT

When you start looking more like monster instead of rock star – ask. Are you:

  • NOT YOURSELF? – My 70 hour weeks weren’t even about being tired anymore. I was starting to involuntarily cause issues for both myself and my colleagues. I was becoming mean, overly cynical, sometimes rude and my brain was so beyond exhausted – I didn’t even know I was doing it!
  • UNAWARE? – There’s dedication to your job and then there is over dedication. I was spending every waking moment dissecting every move. From going over to-do lists in the shower to writing thoughts down before bed, I was completely unaware that work had taken over – and while the over-thought work paid off, it came at a huge cost – my sanity.
  • ENTITLED? – At some point a little voice enters your brain and says “no one is working as hard as you.” That voice is dangerous because it never shuts up! It keeps saying how you “aren’t getting what you deserve, albeit vacation, more even distribution of work or even 30 minutes to get lunch and pee!” You become the – “you need a vacation, NO I need a vacation person” – entitled and grumpy.

THE ROAD TO RECOVERY

One of the hardest parts is letting go – to my device, my work brain and my e-mail. But, if you’re going to make the most of your trip and come back better you have to:

  • UNPLUG – It’s no secret that letting yourself off the digital leash is truly liberating. But to be truly restored – fully let go. Get off Instagram, Snapchat, e-mail, all of it! Often it’s easy to shut off work e-mail notifications and say – “oh but I need my phone for the camera.” Buy a camera! Leave your phone in your bag.
  • USE THE WEEK BEFORE EFFECTIVELY – You’re days are numbered till you get a break. For peace of mind create to-do’s for your team members, work back plans for junior staff and a list for yourself to pick-up where you left off when you return. Then FORGET IT ALL! It will be there when you get back.
  • CHECK AT OFF HOURS – Should you be like me and be able to check e-mail every few days without getting sucked back in, check at off hours. That way you’re spared the anxiety of watching all unfold in real time.

MOVING FORWARD

When I got back from Europe, I made a promise – never would I find myself in that black “workaholic” hole again. So after two weeks of “vacation rehab” set new:

  • BALANCE – You’ve been working so hard for a reason. Set new goals with balanced milestones. As you write each step, ask – will this help or hurt my new and balanced schedule. Your goals will still be achievable but with more realistic means to get you there.
  • PRIORITIES – Work should never be your whole life – so what else matters? Schedule time in for friends, family, working out and more. Make that time at a time you should leave work and stick to it. 5:30PM Soul Cycle – here I come!
  • GOALS – Two weeks is a long time and allows for a lot of quality time for thinking. Decide what changes you want to make – it may even be finding a new job!

So here’s to weeklong+ plans with no-apologies and an out-of-office. If you think you deserve a break, you probably do. Now instead of checking your e-mail before bed, book flights instead! Cheers to jet-sets and resets.

For inspiration check out #PRBTakesOff on Instagram. You’re welcome!

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