Did you know that 19 million days of annual leave remain untaken in the UK every year? And that figure doesn't include the sole traders, small businesses and self-employed who regularly forgo holidays, feel they're too busy to take a holiday for fear of missing out on sales, business opportunities or at concern for being unavailable and disappointing their clients.
Do you miss out on your annual leave, feel nervous at leaving the office, work increasingly longer hours, perhaps even calling in at work over the weekend? You may not regard yourself as a workaholic yet find yourself regularly working late to finish essential paperwork or feel that you're not ready to leave work 'just yet'?
Some people define themselves through their job; it's how they think of themselves. A job title provides status, a sense of what's expected and outlines the responsibilities. Life can become more complicated once family, friends and relationships become involved. There isn't a job description or a set of rules provided for home life. Sometimes it can seem less messy, be the easier option to become immersed in work; after all, there's always something to be busy with.
Also leaving the office for an extended period can require someone else to take charge, become acquainted with what's going on. This can feel a vulnerable position to be in, as letting go of the reigns may mean someone discovering errors and omissions, coming up with new, innovative ideas, doing a better job.
But working unremittingly, being too busy to take a holiday can bring problems and issues that eventually require attention, not least of which can be stress and burnout. Let's look at ways to improve your attitude towards work and find a better balance which is positive for all concerned, helping to improve your health and happiness and benefit the life of those around you.
Let's look at some ways to introduce a better perspective and deal with being too busy to take a holiday.
- Check if family and friends are becoming upset and exasperated because you spend weekends regularly checking your phone and emails 'just in case'? Or when you do agree to take a holiday do you spend the first three days stressed and worrying about what's happening whilst you're away and the last three days revving up again? Remember, these are the really important people in your life, the ones who really care about you. Share your work-related concerns with them, let them be supportive, plan to start spending quality time together and learn to relax and have fun.
- Some people thrive on the adrenalin rush they get from being busy. The sense of urgency from taking on vast quantities of work, having pressurised deadlines, demanding clients who expect immediate results can be exciting and elevate thinking and responses to heightened levels of awareness. Also small businesses are often apprehensive at turning down work for fear of losing clients. But living continually in a state of stress can result in an inability to switch off, cause the mind to constantly race. This can start to impact on health and well-being, causing burnout to occur.
- Inject some realism into your way of working. Accept that you can only do so much, that you can't be all things to all men, agree to every demand from your customers or accept every order for work. Saying 'yes' can sometimes mean that you commit too much time and energy to something that is not viable. Get to know other businesses with whom you could share the load and effectively out source work they'd be better suited to. Who knows, you may all end up building better, more valuable customer bases through mutual cooperation with those in similar, complementary fields.
- Work on your confidence, your self-belief and remind yourself that you're doing the best you can. Keep on top of your CPD so that you feel confident in your skills. It's important to earn a living and be professional but accept that you're human and need to take a holiday sometimes. Ensure there's work that you enjoy, that gives you satisfaction so that you can enjoy going to the office each day.
- Build good relationships with clients and customers so that you can help each other in times of crisis. Then if you're overloaded, experience problems, delays or an occasional error you can discuss it and find the best solution. Communicate with mutual respect and understanding so that you can negotiate and establish honest and meaningful relationships.
- Be aware of your personal signs of being stressed. There are 360 physical symptoms of stress so start to learn your own warning signs. You may lose your sense of humour, become irritable, stop sleeping well. Some people over-eat for comfort or lose their appetite. Notice if your memory or concentrate starts slipping or you start to experience headaches. These symptoms can alert you to the importance of taking a break, a holiday in order to refresh and recover from the pressures you're experiencing.
Being too busy to take a holiday may seem like proof of your success, a sign that you're doing well, are important, but taking a break gives you time to relax and recharge, spend time with the special people in your life and then return to work energised to do a better job.