3 Small But Powerful Ways to Make the Most of Your Time off Work

And breathe…

As I write this, I’m winding down for my last day before two weeks off work.

Without trying to sound too much like the Grinch, I always have a nagging feeling that I’m not going to make the most of my holiday.

Will I tick off my to-do list? Will I actually make time for my hobbies? Will I see my friends enough before they (rudely) head back off to uni?

I’m trying to pin down why I feel like this – and there’s a few reasons:

  1. I have to feel productive all of the time, even if I’m not working.
  2. I’m a Virgo. Take from that what you will.
  3. Our obsession with productivity means I feel guilty for taking a break.

Okay, let’s unpack this.

Partly, this is just my personality. At school I was a massive square. I worked my ass off (and did very well), but I rarely paused for breath.

At uni, too, I plunged into the deep end in first year. Even before I’d set foot on campus I’d completed a PR placement.

The fear of not getting a job – and, perhaps, seeing friends and family struggle in the recession – made me all the more determined to do well.

During the holidays, especially Christmas and Easter, I was knee deep in coursework, essays, and academic reading.

Really, I only ever got a few days off *cue the world’s tiniest violin*

This desire to do well – in part due to class anxiety, but also fuelled by my own ego – has meant I’ve always struggled to switch off.

But this is something I see happen to countless other people too.

People on LinkedIn are obsessed with sharing productivity tips. Interviews with CEOs, where they gloat about their 5am starts and 14 hour working days, get thousands of likes.

Why are we so obsessed with productivity? Post economic crash, in order to succeed you have to work harder for longer – whilst barely stopping for breath.

Or so that’s what we’re led to believe.

Late-stage capitalism is a seemingly inescapable part of 21st century life. It means that everything we do is optimised for efficiency and the highest ROI.

But how does this affect our personal lives?

For me, it means not being able to relax. I’m always ‘on,’ as if I have to squeeze as much as I can out of each day. This doesn’t matter if I’m socialising, writing, or catching up on films I’ve missed in the year.

If I do absolutely nothing with my time, I’ll feel like a failure.

So, what am I changing as I start my two week break?

If you struggle with similar issues, here are three ways I’m going to approach my time off work differently:

1. Call it Something Different

First of all, I’m going to stop calling it ‘time off work.’

It has nothing to do with my professional life. This isn’t part of my work. It isn’t a time to ‘recharge my batteries’ to increase my performance later on.

It’s my time – and mine alone. It’s not my company’s time to give out as they please. They do not own it.

Thinking about it differently will put me in a different mindset. It might seem small, but it makes a big difference.

2. Make a List – But Refuse Stick to It

At the start of every holiday, I’m going to make a list of everything I want to do.

In the past, I felt guilty if I didn’t tick everything off.

But not this time. I’ll still make a list, sure. It’s a great thing to refer to if you’re ever bored.

However, taking away this pressure to do everything will hopefully improve my mood.

3. Enjoy Doing Nothing

This is a biggie.

It’s a cliché to say we live fast-paced lives, that we’re glued to our phones, or that our attention spans are shortening.

But there’s definitely value in doing… nothing.

For once, I’m going to try and enjoy doing fuck all.

I’m not going sit inside and stare at four blank walls all day. But still, if I have a few days where nothing happens and I don’t ‘achieve’ anything, so be it.

Likewise, I’m not going to tell you to live in the moment, because I’m not a wellbeing guru.

But, if you can, just try and enjoy slowing down.

This has been *quite* the departure from my usual blogs. Don’t worry, I’ll be back on my bullshit next week with some Sheffield-based tips, reviews and recommendations.

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