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Updated: Aug 28, 2023

Taking a break is hard to do. It’s even harder when you feel like the entire world is at your desk and watching your every move. And taking time off to recharge your career is not just about getting away from work (although that’s important). It’s about coming back with an entirely new perspective and a renewed energy for what matters most: your career.

If you’re feeling burned out, it’s likely time to take a break and reset your schedule. The good news is that this doesn’t mean giving up on your career. You just need to re-prioritize and reconnect with yourself - without any distractions.

1. Improve efficiency and ingenuity

Even quick breaks during the workday can help you maintain focus and boost your productivity and creativity. Taking one step back briefly can help you feel rejuvenated so that you can tackle your to-do list with even more vim and vigor when you return to your desk.

What can you do to re-energize while on your break? Here are just a few options:

  • Take a brisk walk outside, or just sit in the sunshine

  • Grab a healthy smoothie, herbal tea, or a light snack

  • Listen to music you love (and crank up the volume, if you can!)

  • Reorganize your workspace and declutter

  • Meditate or practice deep breathing techniques

2. Maintain a more satisfactory work-life balance

Companies now offer their employees remote and other flexible work arrangements, which can enhance work-life balance. But as many professionals have learned during the pandemic experience, working from home needs to be managed effectively, or it could lead to work-life imbalance.

Windowed work - the practice of breaking up your day into distinct chunks of business and personal time, can help. Here are some quick tips for using this method:

  • Identify your power hours - reserve this high-productivity time — morning, late afternoon, or evening — to concentrate on tasks that require the most skill and focus.

  • Group similar activities - try to cluster tasks that require equal effort and resources and block off hour-long increments, or longer, to get them done.

  • Keep your schedule current and share it - keep colleagues in the loop on times that are best for you to meet and collaborate throughout the work week and when you are unavailable or would prefer not to be disturbed.

3. Appreciate brand-new adventures

Just as taking short breaks during your workday can boost productivity and creativity, getting away from the office for a vacation can help you rejuvenate. It can also keep you from burning out.

There is another benefit that vacation time can provide: It offers an opportunity to experience new things, go to new places and meet new people. Even if your vacation is a staycation, you can still do many things to enrich your mind, promote your wellness and have fun while you hit the pause button on work.

Moreover, the key to a successful vacation: taking time away from work; help ensure you can do that; you should:

  • Make and communicate your plans as early as possible. Let your manager know when you’re expecting to take time off. And try to avoid being on vacation during hectic times for your company or team or when special projects may require an all-hands-on-deck approach.

  • Set up an “out of the office” message. Do this for email and voicemail. If possible, include contact information for a colleague your boss has designated to manage any urgent matters while you are out.

  • Resist the urge to check in with work. How can you fully recharge if you keep dipping back into position while on vacation? Plus, your colleagues and clients will assume it is OK to interrupt you and that you will respond to requests promptly while you are out.

Even the busiest professionals deserve to take breaks, so make sure you regularly set aside time to unwind. And when you do pivot back to work, you can hit the ground running with renewed energy and enthusiasm — making you even more effective in your job and career.

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