If you’re longing for a break, check out our six tips for taking time off during the Coronavirus pandemic. Use these tips to plan a little time off in the coming months, even if it doesn’t feel exactly the same as it used to.
On March 7, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the global number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had surpassed 100,000. One year later, and the total number of reported coronavirus cases is just under 120,000,000.
The pandemic has changed the way we work. As organizations increasingly shift to flexible work schedules and remote work environments, it’s become increasingly difficult to hold the line between work and time off. According to a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the average workday lengthened by nearly an hour in 2020. When your home doubles as your office, it blurs the line between the two.
Time Off is Essential
No matter when, where, or how you work, time off is essential to sustain your productivity, creativity, and performance. Think of it this way: Athletes know that recovery is an important element of peak performance. It gives the body time to replace fluids, restore regular body function, and repair damaged tissues. This same principle applies to all kinds of work, not just physical activity.
Slow, hopeful signs of improvement are emerging as the number of vaccinations increases and new coronavirus cases drop. While “normal” is a long way off, taking restful breaks from work is healthy and makes us more productive in the long run. Use these tips to make the most of your time off (even if you’re not going anywhere).
Take Shorter, More Frequent Breaks
When you think of a vacation, what comes to mind? For many, it invokes thoughts of travel to a specific destination: a cruise, a new city, a resort. Vacation during a pandemic has new factors to consider; namely, increased health risks, safety measures, and financial cost.
A vacation doesn’t need to be a week-long excursion out of town, state, or country. Start by reframing your idea of what taking time off and disconnecting from work looks like. Small, frequent breaks give you time to rediscover activities you love and try things you’ve never done. Take a day or half-day off and focus on self-care. Use this time for things you like to do, things you haven’t had time to do, and new things you’re interested in doing.
Embrace the Staycation
Unwinding at home can be just as beneficial as traveling to a vacation spot. Adequately plan for your time off. Otherwise, it’s easy to fall into life-as-usual routines, and you won’t feel refreshed from your staycation. Having a general idea of what you’ll do on your staycation will help you make the most of your time off.
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Take a virtual tour of a place you’d like to visit.
- Watch a live-streamed or recorded concert (extra points if you act like you’re there in person: dress up and singalong!).
- Enjoy a marathon movie night. You can pick a movie marathon theme, such as Night at the Oscars, 80s flicks, sports films, superheroes, or anything in between. Stock up on snacks and enjoy the theater experience right at home.
- Go outside. There are plenty of ways to spend time outside, even if a theme park adventure or beach getaway isn’t feasible. Go for a walk or hike, stargaze, or find a spot to watch the sunrise or sunset. If you have a backyard or nearby camping grounds in your area, pack up your camping supplies and spend the night outside.
Bring the Destination to You
Even if you’re vacationing at home, it’s important to set expectations for yourself and the people you work with. Communicate whether you’ll be checking email or responding to issues. If so, try to limit it to set times. Set an out-of-office message, even if it’s just for a random half-day off work. You’ll have the assurance that people are in the loop about your absence, which means they don’t expect an immediate response.
When feasible, consider temporarily turning off notifications for work apps and email. If you act like you’re not on vacation by answering calls, responding to emails, or being as in-touch as you usually are, it won’t feel like much of a vacation at all.
Take a Workation
A “workation,” or working vacation, allows you to take a vacation from the workplace, if not the work itself. A workcation blends your productive and leisure time. For example, you can book a private beach house, work during the day, and kick back and enjoy the waves at the end of the day. You can go to any destination and explore the region after your work is done or on the weekends.
With so many people working from home, a workation offers a much-needed change of scene. This can be a good compromise for those who need downtime but may not be able to disconnect completely from their job responsibilities. The change in routine will lower your stress level, which benefits your productivity and creativity. It’s not about taking a vacation from work—it’s about immersing yourself in your work while also finding ways to relax and unwind away from the confines of your home office.
Beat the Vacation Guilt
We put undue pressure on ourselves to work during our time off. A 2018 survey found that roughly 56% of Americans still work while they’re on vacation. Vacation guilt stems from many sources, such as the pervasive belief that taking time off could derail your career. Many workers hesitate to take time off because of the added stress and work it places on coworkers.
While feeling vacation guilt means you’re the kind of conscious person who cares about your career and team members, it’s not good for you. You need time both not working and not thinking about work to recover from stress. More often than not, your teammates will be happy to step up and help out while you make the most of your time off—you just need to be willing to return the favor. When you contribute to a culture where time off is supported and encouraged, you’ll feel less guilty when it comes time to take time off for yourself.
Remember: You’ve earned your vacation days. Don’t view rest and relaxation as a waste of time. Time off is key for being a productive, successful, and happy person.