Take the holiday, will you!
“To be, or not to be'' when Prince Hamlet asked this question in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, little must have he known that this will be a very relevant question even after centuries, especially at work. Should you be on that Zoom call or not, should you be a part of that decision or not or should you take that holiday or not!
Speaking of holidays, there is a constant dilemma associated with taking breaks, even the small ones.
I remember taking holidays often in the pre-pandemic life. Once the pandemic came in, and work from home started, the boundaries of work and home blurred. Along with this, there were a lot of social distancing protocols in place, which made travel cumbersome. Essentially, I stopped taking any breaks from work. Till it hit me six months later that I had been working non-stop and just needed to get a small holiday in. So while traveling was still difficult, my family and I ended up creating a home vacation centered around my birthday - we went to the beach a few times, ordered food multiple times over the break, made some cocktails and essentially had a good time without thinking about work or checking in on Slack, Zoom, Email etc!
Going back to my early days of entrepreneurship, I had never thought about team off-sites, sabbaticals, leave alone weekend getaways. To put it in a startup entrepreneur’s words, I was constantly hustling! But, I have realized that-
Hustle = Smart Work and Not Just Hard Work
And, for smart work you need time to THINK! As I started to inculcate short (long weekends) and longer (few weeks) breaks into my work life, I realized that the breaks not only helped me to reconnect with my friends and family, relax for a bit, pay attention to my physical and mental health, but also helped me to look back on my work and course correct.
Why Should You Take A Break from Work?
For the simple reason that you need it! Yes, believe it or not, we all need a break. I didn’t know it till I took one. Types of breaks could include-
Organization driven such as company off-sites, leadership off-sites, wellness days, and no meeting days.
Personally driven such as weekend holidays, making long weekends opportunistically, or taking few weeks off whenever possible
I am a big fan of leaders motivating their teams to take regular breaks, so that everyone gets a chance to rejuvenate themselves.
I have also come to believe taking breaks as a leader has a lot of advantages for your teams and yourself. Here are some of them-
An Opportunity to Think Strategically
If you want to scale up your business, then you need to think strategically. A break can give you some time and opportunity to evaluate the past and decide for the future. In fact, as leaders we need to ensure that everyone in the organization gets a chance to take such breaks and think about what can they better to make a 10x (or 100x) difference versus incremental improvements
Empowers Your Team to Step Up
This might sound counterintuitive but your absence empowers your team to step up in many ways. Your leaders learn to step in your shoes and maneuver through many situations, such as conflict resolution, without your support. And isn’t that a great outcome for you as a leader!
Shows That You Care
Normalizing breaks from work and taking holidays shows that you really care for the team’s mental wellness and growth. It also shows you trust your teams. Flexibility and freedom leads to higher productivity and accountability among team members.
If you are just beginning on this journey, then I highly recommend you to read No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer. The book shares enough examples about how freedom given to the employees helped Netflix to reduce redundancy of processes and increase productivity.
So, what are you thinking? If a holiday plan, short or long, has been on your mind, then go ahead and take it. Along the way, try to also normalize taking breaks in your organization. It will only help you to move ahead faster.
Have you ever asked your team to take holidays? What did they say? Do share your thoughts with me on this!
This resonates a lot. At the venture backed startup I cofounder 10 years ago. We had marquee customers, raised over $25 million dollars and had press fawning all over us constantly.
But since I had not taken a break in 5 years, I was stressed out, burnt out and there came a point where getting out of bed was a chore. Looking back, the best thing I could have done for myself and the business was take regular breaks.