Being on the go all the time is exhausting. At the same time, it’s what’s expected of each and every one of us every day. We hear daily that to be successful at school, at a job, or even within your social circle, you must be active, engaged, and in other words, constantly occupied. In a world where we have not discovered a source for perpetual motion, we sure are hard on ourselves to be constantly ready to go. But how can we, as working professionals or students, ensure that we take a pause in our busy lives when our success and future depend on being busy? Let’s examine some of the strategies you can implement to ensure a break without hurting your productivity, those who depend on you, and your professional reputation.
If You’re a Student…
Students often forgo breaks and relaxation to ensure that their grades and relationships with potential reference writers are stellar. While it’s understandable to work hard towards a bright future, don’t forget that without proper breaks and relaxation you will burn out before you get to live out your career dreams.
This is especially true for any students looking to pursue college, graduate work, or competitive professional programs like medical school or law school. The expectations are so high that stress inevitably creeps in. This is why knowing when to pause and take a break is essential. But how to do this without hurting your GPA?
Create a weekly schedule that would include designated breaks. While it may sound rigid, having a reminder in your schedule to take a break can truly help you. Your weekly schedule should be detailed as possible, outlining what academic and extracurricular activities you have scheduled throughout the week and how much time you are planning to dedicate to each “busy” activity. Be honest. If you think that studying physics will take you 5 hours, schedule your day accordingly; if you know that your prep course lasts 2 hours, then be sure to indicate this properly.
Finally, designate at least a few hours a week to relaxation. This will be the time when you do not participate in any of your academic and professional commitments. You can go to a concert, take a walk with a friend, or play with your dog. Do whatever helps you take your mind off your busy schedule.
In a few weeks of sticking to this schedule, you will notice that your productivity and mood increase significantly!
If You’re a Professional
It’s sometimes impossible to imagine leaving your team without your help. This is unhealthy and counterproductive. Emphasize independence in your teammates and promote their progress. This is the only way for you to feel confident that if you take a vacation or an unplanned day off, your team’s productivity and quality will not suffer. This is a long-term solution but start implementing it as soon as possible.
When your teammates ask for your help and guidance, thoroughly explain how to perform a task and give them visual directions that they can reference when you are gone. Whether you decide to create a learning module or simply record your actions when you are performing a task, these visual aids will be invaluable to your colleagues when you are gone.
Another way to ensure your team’s independence is to ask them to try to figure out a problem before they turn to you for help. This does not mean that you should not help your colleagues! Instead, you should encourage a curiosity that will inevitably lead them to be capable of anything on their own. For example, if they cannot figure out a software, ask them to review an instructional video online. Independent problem solving will not only raise their self-esteem but also help them absorb the information.
Conclusion: If You’re a Parent…
This is perhaps the most challenging position to be in if you need a break. When schools and activities were closed during COVID, many parents just simply could not take a break from child caring. And as much as we love our children, we do need some time for ourselves. As things start to get back to normal, consider signing up your children for extracurricular and volunteering activities, after-school programs, and playdates. Try to schedule a couple of hours a week for your children to have a social life outside of the comfort of their home. Not only will it give you some important alone time, but your children will also develop exciting new skills and interests.