We all need to learn to take a day off and disconnect from work. A day free of checking work emails, scheduling meetings, and calling in for just one meeting (I swear. Just one. Fine, I’ll pop into the office for it. It’ll be easier that way. Oh, just let me quickly do that while I’m in the office too. Here, I got this too. Fuck it, I’ll just stay the whole day.) If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re probably far more well-adjusted than I am. You probably respect that whole “work-life balance” thing people talk about. You also probably skip around in fields while basking in the autumn sun beating down on your face at 5pm on a Wednesday.
But for the rest of us who haven’t set boundaries—stop it. Seriously. We need to stop the insanity. Don’t you want to skip around in fields while basking in the autumn sun beating down on your face at 5pm on a Wednesday too?
After a crazy few weeks (years) of work, I just needed a day off. And a real one this time (see my description of my usual day off above). I worked hard the entire week to preemptively clean up any mess I could see coming. I made sure my project status sheets were up-to-date. Most importantly? I made it clear that I meant it this time—I would be unavailable unless there was an emergency. And let’s face it, I work in branding/marketing/advertising. It’s not brain surgery and emergencies shouldn’t be a real thing.
Right before I went to bed the night before my day off, I went into my phone’s email settings and ticked the “off” button for my work email account. I was uneasy, but I knew I had to do it.
When I woke up in the morning I instinctively grabbed my phone. I opened my email and found nothing but junk email (I need to take another day off just to unsubscribe from all those). Oh. Right. No working. I had brunch planned with another work friend that was taking the day off as well. So, I still got up early, got in the shower, and began to get ready.
And that’s when it hit me. I was free. I could drive to brunch and not feel the need to check my email at the red light. I could sip a mimosa while laughing with my friend and have my phone tucked away in my purse. I could really engage with the people around me.
That was the first time in years that I felt really refreshed and motivated. This was just one day in the town I live in. And it did more for me than an entire week spent checking emails at the beach last year.
I could to really listen to what people were saying and evaluate their facial expressions deeper than usual. I laughed really hard at a stupid pun because I wasn’t too distracted to miss it. I ran into six people I know at the coffee shop and although they were there to get some work done, I could catch up with them and really respect what they were doing.
You know what else? While grabbing dinner and drinks with friends I ran into, we had brain power left to come up with a new, rad idea for an event. Yeah, I know, that’s adding more work to my plate, but I never said I wasn’t going to continue to work hard. And this is something I truly enjoy. I just needed to clear my head for a day to think of it.
When you give your brain a break from the daily grind, you open yourself up to possibilities for fresh thoughts. You do better work. You’re more insightful. And most importantly, you can fully connect with the people you care about.
Set some boundaries and take a real break. You owe it to the people you care about, your job, and yourself.