Burnt Out?? – Planned Short Breaks Can Help

One of the big challenges for professionals is taking a holiday. We all need to… but mostly we don’t. So why is that?

It varies greatly. Sole practitioners worry their clients will desert them. Some people fear that if they leave their offices long enough, they might not have a job when they return! Then there are those people pathologically incapable of delegating…‘I can’t be done without’. There’s the folk who simply don’t have a life outside of their work… or if you like, they manage their work/life priorities poorly. Don’t forget the partner who lives in fear of a conspiracy in his absence. And sometimes, well – we are just relentlessly busy.

The truth is that it can be hard to get away other than in the Xmas closedown. So what’s the solution?

I recommend about 3 or 4 planned short breaks a year…. each for 4 or 5 days… enough time to recharge the batteries but not so much to let the worry or paranoia set in.

To get maximum benefit, you need to follow a few simple rules.

Firstly – understand the third / third/ third principle. The emotional and health value you extract from a break is typically a third looking forward to it, a third having it, and a third reflecting on how good it was. Think about this. It makes sense.

If you haven’t locked in your break and booked the tickets, then on those late nights when you’re burning the midnight oil you can’t quietly say to yourself… keep going… in 8 days’ time I’m out of here. Not only that, but it’s something you can share with your partner – it simply doesn’t matter what mad stuff is going on in your work or personal life, you’ll both have something to look forward to. And far too often, if we don’t commit in advance we always find some bogus reason at the eleventh hour not to go.

Secondly – be smart in choosing days. Try picking a day before and after a long weekend. You are only taking two days of actual leave, but it’ll feel like about a week! And crucially, you aren’t away for anything like enough time for the ‘what’ll they do without me?’ paranoia to set in. And remember – it’s a lot easier to sign off for two extra days than two extra weeks.

Thirdly – get everything sorted before you leave…. your files, the relevant people, and anticipate any minor issues that might arise. If you leave a mess, your head will be a mess – and the mess will be even worse when you return. That’s not why you take a holiday!

Finally – turn off properly. Get your emails diverted. Don’t make business calls. And learn to relax. After a few trips, you will get into the short break routine and the anticipation of your next trip will never be too far away.

The planned short break really is a proven way to reduce burn out – so give it a try.

Published: Queensland Law Society – Proctor, December 2015 p.56

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