A frazzled employee is a stressed out employee. A stressed out employee is an unhappy employee. And an unhappy employee is unlikely to be very excited to take on a new project or be very productive in the process.
The cure? Research suggests employees should take more time off of work.
The one problem is many workers actually cheat themselves out of this time. In a country where the majority of workers hesitate to use their vacation time, personal days could be an answer.
The Power of Personal Days
Imagine if you could improve your productivity and happiness on the job or the happiness of your employees by simply not working one day out of each quarter. Not long ago the Harvard Business Review published a piece that discussed how having a happy, positive mindset increased productivity. Anxiety and stress do the exact opposite by triggering the brain to think like it’s under duress.
In other words, happiness often begets success, not necessarily the other way around. Stress, anxiety and exhaustion are all happiness killers, and not taking enough time off work is a big part of the problem. A 2013 study from Expedia found that 59% of Americans feel vacation deprived. And feeling deprived doesn’t usually lead to happy thoughts. Significant findings from the study included:
- Americans have an average of 14 vacation days but only take 10 of them.
- 67% of Americans stay connected to work while on vacation.
- Work-related issues and heavy workload keep 35% of workers from using vacation time.
Interestingly, the hesitation to take time off is a result of most workers’ own perceptions rather than directives from upper management. Another study from the U.S. Travel Association definitively showed that employers and managers understand the value of employees taking time off – and are in support of it. A full 90% said that PTO improved morale and reduced burnout, both of which make employees better team players.
As you’ve read in The ONE Thing, we all need to hit the reset button every now and then to get energized and recharge our positive perspective. Personal days are a great way of balancing a heavy workload with time off from said workload. Workers can relax without feeling like work is piling up, that balls will get dropped or that they’ll be regarded as slackers.
How to Make Personal Days Live Up to Their Name
Ready for a three-day weekend or a hump day to yourself? To get the full benefits of a personal day follow the tips below so you don’t get sidetracked with distractions.
Let People Know You’ll Be Out of the Office – One to two weeks before you take your personal day let co-workers, clients and managers know. Follow up with a reminder a day or two before your day off.
Ban All Work-related Electronic Communication – Ditch the email for a day (leave an away message so that people know you’re out of office), turn the cell phone off and tuck the laptop away.
Work Out Family Matters Beforehand – A personal day isn’t the same as a family fun day. A personal day is just that. If you want to take the kids to school or have lunch with a spouse by all means pencil it into your personal day. But don’t feel guilty if you want “me time” on your day off. Make arrangements beforehand so all the household matters are handled then kick back and relax.
Plan for Personal Enjoyment – Since you will have time to yourself, think about a few things that you want to do that you typically never indulge in because you’re either with others or just don’t have the time. An hour-long massage, a quiet stroll through an art gallery, diving into a great book – it’s all about what you want to do so take full advantage of the day.
Make Your Morning Count – The start of your day is always important even on your day off. Get a good night’s rest, even if it means sleeping a little later than normal so you can get a full seven hours of shuteye. Since you’re not rushing off to work, consider factoring in some meditation time, like Gary does in the Daily Energy Plan he shares in The ONE Thing. Follow it up with a healthy breakfast, and you’ll be good to go!
Try to pencil in at least one personal day every quarter to ensure that you’re getting enough time to unwind and find your happy place. How do personal days help you stay positive and productive?