The Working Well Series from Make Me A Plan Productivity Expert, Pen Le Kelly

Hello there Fans of Plans! Summer holidays are in full swing and this week we are looking at taking time out from work. 


Regular readers of my blog will remember that last fortnight, I wrote about business continuity during seasonal demands and annual leave. Well, this fortnight, I am focusing on the benefits of taking that time out. 


We all know that taking regular breaks from work is important to help prevent burnout. But there can be a few concerns with taking time off, be that for annual leave, medical reasons, time of in lieu etc. You might feel:


  • Stressed at the thought of the workload that you’ll be coming back to
  • Worried you are putting an extra burden on your colleagues while you are off
  • Tempted to check your emails/texts/phone messages while you are on leave (thus defeating the object of taking a break!) 


All of these are valid reasons to be a bit anxious about taking time off but let’s take a look at each of these and see if we can’t iron out a few of those concerns.


Stressed at the thought of the amount of work you’ll be coming back to

We all dread opening our email inboxes and seeing just how many emails have piled up since we logged on, or piles of admin that may need to catch up on. It can be daunting. Here are a few tips:

  1. Do an initial sift of your email inbox – what can be instantly deleted, those circulars or any emails that you have been cc’d into that don’t require any action from you. If it’s important enough, someone will get back to you! 
  2. After the initial sift, look through for any emails that require you to take an action – list these out and deal with them in order of priority. If something looks unrealistic/unachievable, then let the sender know as soon as possible to allow for any contingency planning at their end. 
  3. Block out your diary for the first morning (or possible the whole day!) you are back from your absence, that way you can get your head down and catch up on the essentials that you may have missed.
  4. Remember everyone hates that first day back to work feeling – we can all have empathy with you! So, if anyone contacts you that day, let them know it’s your first day back and you are catching up and arrange a meeting for later in the week. 

Worried you are putting an extra burden on your colleagues while you are off

We are all entitled to time off.  Your colleagues will not be thanking you if you work yourself into burnout. Burnout can have not only side effects for you such as lack of sleep, anxiety, short temper, colds/flu due our immune systems being low. But the team will suffer these effects of your mood too, which can lead to tensions in the workplace and low morale. 


Talk to your manager and your team about when you are taking time off – you don’t need to justify it to them, but the courtesy for a team to let each other know when they plan to take leave, so the potential extra workloads can be planned for. You may buddy up with a few colleagues and agree to look out for a couple of bits of key information you could be expecting to come in that week and how to field it. If you all do this for each other when on leave, then you can help to keep up the morale in the team, knowing that you have each other’s backs . 


Tempted to check your emails/texts/phone messages while you are on leave (thus defeating the object of taking a break!)


Worst. Idea. Ever! It can be so temping to check in on work when you are off especially if you have taken time out during important deadlines. But ask yourself, “ will I even remember what that project deadline six months/a year from now – was it so important that it couldn’t wait until I got back from leave, or was there really no one that could pick this up in?” 


The answer to this question is probably no – so give yourself a break. If you come back feeling like you have been able to completely switch off during your time away, you’ll be all the more ready to get stuck back in when you return. 


PS - If you are keen for some individual wellbeing tips to complement this Working Well life, check our Being Yourself Series with Jane. You can read the latest edition here:  https://www.makemeaplan.com/news/

When choosing to browse our site, you consent to the use of cookies to tailor your experience. You can withdraw your consent at any time by changing your browser settings and deleting saved cookies. Privacy, Terms & Conditions