Burned out at work? When was the last time you had a vacation? According to a study conducted last year by Project: Time Off, Americans are taking less vacation time than at any point in the last 40 years.
Up until the year 2000, American workers took an average of 20 days off each year. Since then, the numbers have steadily declined, with just 16 vacation days taken on average in 2015.
This is a worrying trend, both for the population in general and businesses themselves. Taking time out of the daily grind is important for an individual’s health and state of mind. Workers risk feeling burned out at work by skipping this downtime and are in danger of damaging the companies they are working so hard to support.
How to Prevent Feeling Burned Out At Work
There are many reasons people fail to take a vacation and feel burned out at work, some real and others manufactured. Here are a few of the most common anti-vacation myths and how to fix them:
Myth #1: The “I’m Irreplaceable” Syndrome
One reason many people give for not taking a vacation boils down to their belief that tasks won’t be completed in their absence. They often worry they will come back to a mountain of work or believe that no one else can carry out their job functions. This applies especially to small business owners who are concerned that sales will grind to a halt if they take time off.
How to Fix It: Concerns about taking yourself out of the office can be remedied by ensuring you have systems in place to cover work. Define these systems by analyzing every role in your organization and document key processes that must get done. Each process can then be assigned out to colleagues, employees, or contractors as appropriate.
Myth #2: Vacation Affordability
Another explanation that people give for being unable to tear themselves away from work is that they lack the funds to take a vacation. When we think of taking time off, it often conjures up images of lying on the beach, cocktail in hand.
How to Fix It: It’s important to remember that vacations take many forms. The most vital thing is to give yourself a break from the hustle of work. Taking a week off to spend on a “staycation” that involves going on long walks, reading books, or the fun things near home that you never take the time to do. These may not actually cost anything and could do just as much for your mental wellbeing as a trip to an exotic location. If you can’t get away for a full week, try scheduling long weekends or Mental Health Mondays.
Myth #3: The “Dedication” Myth
Some people think they’re showing commitment to their business by not taking a vacation. To a certain extent, whether this is true or not will depend on the particular business and industry you’re working in.
Despite this belief, the majority of forward-thinking people (both employers and employees) are unlikely to think that a work obsession is a desirable quality to have in a team. They’ll recognize the importance of work-life balance in a well-rounded individual.
How to Fix It: Remind your workers (and yourself!) that taking breaks helps rejuvenate them and gives them an opportunity to reset and focus their minds. When they get back from their vacation, chances are their productivity will improve.
Though there are certainly myths that lead us to believe taking a vacation is purely selfish, it’s clear that you can prevent feeling burned out at work by taking regular breaks. Ensuring the wheels don’t fall off in your absence involves maintaining clear delegation and organizational systems.
If you need help getting your business in shape to allow some time off, schedule a complimentary coaching call with me. I worked with a client that couldn’t find time to take a vacation for 11 years. After we worked on training his team to handle his duties, he went for a two-week vacation and he was thrilled that the business ran well without him. That can be you!