Imagine you’re at what feels like an important stage in a project and you’re feeling borderline burnt out.
What do you do? Do you take time off or do keep getting after the work?
If your gut is telling you to take time off, congratulations — you get it. The rest of this post isn’t for you.
If you’re like most Americans and your first thought was to keep on working, then I invite you to play out both scenarios a little bit further:
Scenario 1: You keep working
In this scenario, you might start of feeling good about your decision at first — like you’re being a selfless team player who is eager to contribute.
In time though, you will also go from being borderline burnt out to completely burnt out.
Sure, you might be able to endure for a few more days and remain effective, but at some point you’re going to start showing up to work as a zombie: you’ll wake up exhausted, have very few thoughts to contribute to your meetings, and your ability to complete tasks will likely take twice as long as usual if not longer.
Scenario 2: You take time off
In the scenario, you might feel guilty at first for a variety of reasons: perhaps you feel like you’re letting your team down, or you feel that you’re putting your career in jeopardy because you’re not fulfilling the image you have of what lean, mean, 24–7-hustling machine high performer is supposed to do (more on this later).
Despite all the initial guilt, you find that there’s light at the end of the tunnel: there’s a day at some point in the middle of your time off where you wake up refreshed for perhaps the first time in a long while.
That’s not say your burnout magically went away over night, but you definitely feel a lot better than you did before you took time off.
When you do get back to work, you realize that you have more energy and focus to bring to the table: you’re more engaged in meetings, you’re contributing regularly, and you feel great.
Choosing to not rest is 3 cuts with one strike: you suffer, your team suffers, and the work suffers.
When you rest on the other hand, you benefit, your team benefits, and the work benefits.