There are days when we all feel the need to mentally check out of the day-to-day routine, rush hours and reality that we face in our working lives and just recharge. This is especially common when our leisure time is often compromised due to work commitments. It’s been discovered that around 60% of smartphone-using professionals kept in touch with work for a full 13.5 hours per day, and then spent another 5 hours juggling work email each weekend, that equates to staggering 72 hour work weeks.
Although it may seem counter-productive to take a full day break from your desk, the truth is, this rest period can actually help to encourage and foster productivity. Continuously working long hours can set off strain reactions such as stress, fatigue and anxiety which drain your emotional and physical resources. In order to replenish these resources and stay on track, you need to switch off, reflect, and restore to build focus, creativity and resilience.
The first and easiest part in preparing for your much needed day off is to make the call to say you won’t be coming into the office; the hard part for most of us is shedding the guilt of skipping work and focusing on taking this day to relax and rest. Here are some top tips in preparing to enjoy that mental health day, you so deserve:
Call work early, at least an hour before you are due to start work
This is for courtesy. Start by calling your boss, and then emailing the colleagues you work closest with. Letting your boss and your co-workers know that you will be unreachable for the day before you get there, gives them a little extra time to plan for your absence and take care of any urgent matters while you’re out.
Make a list of items that are approaching deadline
If there is anything you can put off for a day, great, if not alert a co-worker to step in and manage an important task in your absence. The more you can ensure that everything runs smoothly while you’re out, the better you can enjoy your day off when you don’t have to check in and keep on track of tasks.
Put your out-of-office on
Ask one of your colleagues if they mind being your assigned go-to person in your absence. Then turn on your out-of-office feature on your emails to let anyone who emails you know that you are out sick, and unreachable, and if they require anything urgent they should contact your co-worker. More often than not, it’s not urgent, and if it is, it will be taken care of by our co-worker.
Reschedule calls or meetings
If you have appointments for the day, send an email to those you were supposed to connect with and let them know you’re sick. It happens and people understand – they will also appreciate that you let them know in advance.
Spend your day doing something you enjoy, non-work related
Everyone has their own unwind ritual. For some it’s Netflix in bed, for others it’s a yoga class. Do whatever you can, non-related to work that doesn’t require you to look at your phone or log into your emails. Listen to your body: eat whenever you’re hungry, drink whenever you’re thirsty, and nap whenever you’re tired.
Days not to call in sick
To ensure the most relaxing day, without the added dread of returning to work the following morning, be smart about the days you decide to take off. Do not take days off which you know your boss will be suspicious about. Do show up for that meeting that you hate, do show up after a confrontation with a co-worker, do show up on Mondays and Fridays if possible, and do show up on the days when you know your team needs you because they’re already under-resourced and / or shouldn’t have to take on the burden of your workload because you wanted a day off on your typically busiest day. If you do feel frazzled and overwhelmed, go in and ask to leave early for a little bit of R&R time. Use your judgment and try and balance your efforts to reduce your stress levels without increasing anyone else’s.
Come back stronger
So switch off, unplug, and unwind. And be sure to start your first day back right by grabbing that helpful co-worker a coffee on your way to the office to thank them for stepping up to the plate. Then you can make a start on all those emails with a whole new, well rested, productive mindset.
For more ideas on how to make the most of your guilt-free day off from work, click here.