By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO & Co-Founder, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University
We designers invest a lot in our businesses – a lot of our time and a lot of ourselves. Sometimes we forget that both time and our energies are limited. Driving away day after day at your business may bring you more success, but over time it takes a toll on your body, your performance, and your spirit. Eventually, that is going to catch up with you, often in ways you may not suspect.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Numerous studies have shown that working non-stop elevates your stress, depletes your energies, and reduces your concentration, creativity and productivity. If unchecked, it can lead to serious health problems. It can also be destructive to your relationships with your family, friends and colleagues. Gaining an extra client or two isn’t worth that. All of these studies come to the same conclusion: In the end, you will be much better off, and so will your business, if you take more vacations.
I offer you this advice as a reformed workaholic. I used to believe I couldn’t afford to take time away from my business for something as trivial as relaxation. For the sake of my health and peace of mind, I gradually relented, taking off a day or two here and there. I was amazed at the difference it made in my outlook and my success. Now I make it a point to schedule regular vacation time onto my calendar, and I urge you to do the same.
How much time you give yourself can depend upon your personal situation, of course. Those studies I mentioned suggest a minimum of eight days at least a couple of times a year. It usually takes several days just to decompress and get out of your routine before you can allow yourself to relax and enjoy doing something besides working.
If that’s not possible, plan around long holiday weekends or downtime between projects to give yourself a three- or four-day respite at least once a quarter and, if possible, at least one extended vacation a year. Time off is more effective if it’s spread out more evenly over the year, rather than trying to cram all your vacation into one lump.
Don’t confuse taking vacation with playing hooky. This is personal wellness and development time that, like professional development, will make you even more valuable to your business. Treat it like a project or a meeting with a client. Put it on your calendar and honor it. Once you get used to the idea, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.