If you never take time off, now’s the right time to start. Time off helps you rebalance your life, recenter your goals and come back to work renewed, refreshed and with the best attitude you can have.
Contrary to a society (or your own personal work ethic) that tells you to keep going and working until you’re in the ground, taking time off can actually help you be more productive and put out a higher quality of work than if you’re constantly on the go.
Why It’s Important to Take Time Off
Although the cliché holds that if you do something you love for a job, you’ll never work a day in your life, that only goes so far. As humans, we’re only physically built for so much wear and tear and contracting is a job that puts plenty of wear and tear on our bodies. If nothing else, time off gives your body a time to rest and recover from the strain you place it under.
Your joints, bones, and muscles all repair when rested. If you’re using them in the same way and doing it day after day, they never get the rest they need; that’s why repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel are common amongst contractors.
When you work long hours for days and weeks on end without a break, it’s not just your body that suffers. Your mind – no matter how tough you are mentally or how strong emotionally – also suffers. Burnout, which doesn’t always have obvious symptoms, is the result of working too much with no break.
When to Take Time Off
In a perfect world, you’d be able to take time off whenever you needed a break; but this isn’t a perfect world. One of the great things about working as a contractor is the ability to tailor your schedule to meet your needs – and one of those needs is regular time off throughout the week. Build time into your work schedule for a day off – whether it’s every few days or a few days in a row, make sure you have days set aside just for you and to attend to your or your family’s needs.
But there are also times when regular days off aren’t enough. If you find yourself lagging mentally or suffering physically, it’s time to take a break.
If you can, build in some extra work to create a cushion for those times – it’ll also come in handy if you accidentally injure yourself or need a day off at a moment’s notice for some other reason.
Balance is Key
If you’re having trouble justifying a day off – or having trouble creating time in your schedule to allow for the needed rest – what you’re really struggling with is maintaining a work-life balance. Whether you struggle because you feel taking time off is a sign of a poor work ethic or because you can’t stand to be away from the work for some time, these are actual problems that need to be dealt with.
Whether you research ways to balance work with the rest of your life, speak to a counselor or life coach or simply try to find a schedule that works for you (instead of you working for it), your mental and physical health will flourish – and so will your productivity when you return to the jobsite.