#10 Grab a KitKat and Take a Break
Do you ever notice how some of your colleagues live to work and not work to live? They are at the office at dawn, stay until everyone else has left and then they are online late at night? They rush from meeting to meeting and you can physically hear them walking down the halls because their pace is so brisk that they end up trotting like a horse to get to their next meeting. You figure they can't get any of their work done because they attend so many meetings that they have to work so many hours. Is it 80 hours a week? 90? How do they have a life? I haven't seen them take a vacation maybe ever. Why do they always look so tired and cranky?
The truth is that we all need a break. I have heard excuses countless times throughout my career:
I can't take a break because I will come back to a mountain of work. It's just easier if I don't go on vacation.
No one can do my job while I am away.
If I leave this entire project will fall apart.
The reality is, you need to learn how to delegate your tasks to colleagues while you are out (set clear expectations!) and entrust that they will, in fact, meet the required deadlines. Put together a plan for what needs to get done and share it with your boss and the rest of the team so that others can hold them accountable. Unfortunately, you are replaceable. Everyone is. The project won't fall apart while you are away. If you want to move up within the organization you need to learn to trust others to support you in your time of need.
Sometimes taking a break can also mean turning your phone off the moment you leave the office (or, during covid, the moment you shut your computer). I was trying to send an email on my phone the other night and my one year old son was climbing all over me. My husband turned to me and said, "Brittany, he is fighting for your attention with that phone and he is losing." My stomach immediately turned to knots and I thought to myself, "I never want my son to think that I cannot compartmentalize my life. I don't want him to see me constantly with my face in the phone and attention away from him. I don't want this phone or this job to rule my life." So I put down my phone and remembered that this email can be answered tomorrow. I need to prioritize my son and husband over my job after working hours.
Everyone needs a break. We can't do our best work if we aren't our best selves. Part of being our best selves is knowing when to raise your hand and say, "I'm struggling and I need some help. I would like to take a week off to recharge my batteries." Asking for a break does not mean you are weak. In fact, I would argue that you are stronger when you are able to recognize when you need that break and a helping hand. Vacation time is part of your benefits package for a reason. Companies recognize that you do your best work when you get a break, so grab a KitKat, book your trip, and go lay on a beach. Trust me, you won't regret it.