It seems incredible that 19 million days of annual leave remain unclaimed every year in the UK. And the findings don’t include sole traders, small businesses and self-employed who often miss taking holidays because of work commitments, fear at losing orders or not being available for their customers.
Being busy is good, especially in the present economic climate, but we need to learn ways to find a balance, ways to manage stress and find time to take a holiday:
– Many people put themselves under pressure to keep working in order to earn enough to finance their children’s schooling, holidays, a lovely home, nice cars. It’s interesting though how often when they discuss this with their partners they discover that a happy home life with time together would be preferred to an expensive, stressed out lifestyle. Spending time together, going for days to the beach or park, having a fun time camping is an important part of any holiday. Discussing ways to manage finances and cut back on overheads can reduce the pressure to feel the need to work as hard.
– Start talking! Share your business fears and pressures with those closest to you. Your loved ones, friends and family will usually be happy to support you, may even have good ideas and advice that can help. They may not have appreciated the extent of the pressure you’re experiencing. Talking in itself is often cathartic, providing a sense of relief: hence the saying ‘a worry shared is a worry halved’. Once you feel supported the stress often eases and you’ll be more inclined to relax about taking a break.
– Consider that having one person totally in control of key operational tasks can be counter-productive. That person may be super-efficient, disinclined to let go of the reigns, insist that they can cope, but what happens if that person becomes ill, has to take time off, wants to leave the company, is doing a bad job, or is even doing something illegal? It’s far more sensible to have clear processes in place that are transparent, that can be followed by others, discussed and perhaps be improved upon. Plus it eases the pressure so that there’s a structure in place for crucial staff members to take a holiday.
– Keep a thorough list of outstanding tasks and prioritise them. Do as much as you can on urgent matters and detail any work in progress so that you can bring yourself up to speed at a glance. Many people waste a lot of time flitting ineffectively from one task to the next, spending ten minutes here, thirty minutes there with very little to show for it. Manage your time more efficiently and see what a difference it makes, how it helps you to manage stress better and work more effectively.
– Pass on some of your more mundane, routine work to your staff, part-time help or associates who may be able to undertake these tasks relatively inexpensively, so freeing you to work on more complex tasks. Use their time and if necessary, outsource some work; it’s a more cost-effective use of your time and energy. Or, by letting colleagues who work in complementary fields undertake tasks that are better suited to them you may find that they return the gesture when they can, a win/win situation all round. You become able to manage stress by working effectively in the areas that make better use of your skills and talents.
– Remind yourself of the importance of breaks. Stopping for lunch, a walk, an exercise class or to sit outside with a healthy drink has been proven to benefit a person’s clear thinking and efficiency on their return to work. A break allows stress levels to subside, the mind to relax and provides a valuable distraction from intense concentration.
– Leaving the office at a reasonable time allows you to look after your health better. You give yourself time to wind down from the stresses and demands of the day, become more involved in your home life, remain connected to your partner, children, friends, allow time for a social life, are more likely to introduce meaningful hobbies and interests and even have some quiet ‘me’ time or find time to take a holiday.
All these actions promote a better lifestyle, encourage quality sleep, healthier nutrition and allow the time that you do spend working to be more productive, with better results for all concerned.
Susan Leigh is a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who works with stressed individuals to promote confidence and self belief, with couples experiencing relationship difficulties to improve communications and understanding and with business clients to support the health and motivation levels of individuals and teams.
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