Why you need more time off…


It may seem ridiculous to say it – but I think you need more time off work.

Yes, I know you’ve just had a four day weekend. Immediately preceded by er…another four day weekend.

But let me ask you a question. How much did you get done in the three days between Easter and the Royal Wedding? If you’re anything like me the answer is, a lot. How much do you get done in the couple of days before you go on holiday – when you’re really focused, when you’re crossing things off your to-do list so fast your pen is a blur? Is it possible that you could achieve as much in a really focused four day week as you currently do in a sometimes-not-very-focused-‘cos-there’s-plenty-of-time five day week?

There’s a Canadian business coach called Dan Sullivan – www.strategiccoach.com if you want to take a look. Sullivan advocates a system of focus days, buffer days and free days. Focus days are what you’d expect – at least 80% of your time that day is focused on your business and on what brings you income. Buffer days are essentially admin days – and free days are precisely that. Days where you do no work – days that are specifically there for you to re-charge your batteries.

So let me ask you another question – this time about free days. When was the last time you had one? When was the last time you had a day that was absolutely dedicated to recharging your batteries? When you pleased yourself and said, ‘Friday May 6th – that’s a day exclusively for me.’

I’m not advocating living your life selfishly. What I am saying, is that occasionally, you need to take some positive time off. So was your last free day:

A) in the last month
B) in the last three months
C) in the last 12 months, or
D) I can’t remember…

Let me know your answers, and let’s hope we don’t get a majority of D’s…

I’ll also be interested to see the differences in the sexes. In my experience, women are better at taking positive time off than men. When we lived in London Dav would periodically announce that she was going to the Sanctuary in Covent Garden. Last month she disappeared off to Thorpe Park Spa for the day. Somehow men seem to find this idea of having an indulgent day off a bit difficult. That said, I’ve just spent three days playing golf (in Blackpool!) and I feel wonderful – revitalised, re-charged and ready for anything. (Although that may have had something to do with the result…)

So with the summer here and the met office confidently forecasting unremitting good weather through to September, grab your diary and cross a few days out. Book yourself some free time – and then positively plan what you’re going to do with those days. If you don’t do that you’ll drift into the office to open the post, or switch your laptop on and start checking the cash flow. And then the day will be gone.

Remember this: success is a product of what you achieve – not how long you sit at your desk. If you’re running your own business, you’re in the results business, not the ‘time spent’ business. Taking positive time off will benefit you in the long run – and that’ll be reflected in your bottom line. Besides, as the old saying goes, no-one lies on their deathbed muttering “I wish I’d spent more time at the office…”

On that cheerful note, I’ll leave you until next week – absolutely confident that there won’t be a single D…

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23 comments

  1. demhalluk · May 5, 2011

    I’m taking tomorrow completely off, but I’ll have to work Saturday to catch up with work, so it probably doesn’t count!

    • edreidyork · May 6, 2011

      Hi Diane – you’re right – not sure that does count! But thanks for your comments – hope things are going well, Ed

  2. Jo Yeates · May 5, 2011

    My answer is B – the occasional day of “me-time” is essential to retain your perspective, not to mention your sanity! That reminds me, I must book my next one…..

    • edreidyork · May 6, 2011

      That’s success for me Jo if I’ve convinced you to book your next hols – well done!

  3. Dave Rawlings · May 5, 2011

    My last free day? Well, I remember a day in 1995 – or was it 96? !!
    But that’s not to say I work all the time. I spend loads of time messing about doing things that look like work. What I very seldom do is decide to take a day to do something that isn’t either work or some essential house/garden job. I suppose it’s guilt that stops me – and I blame it on being in the Scouts at an impressionable age and promising “to do my duty to God and the Queen”!

    • edreidyork · May 6, 2011

      Hi Dave – my challenge to you is therefore to decide (and stick to) a proper day “off”. I’ll hold you to it!

  4. Nicky Somers · May 5, 2011

    I’m a C) but I am taking Monday week off, which I’m really looking forward to. Going to Germany to visit family. I have to say that I definitely think that a four day week would work for me and for all you business owners out there, why not make yours a three day week by handing over your admin days to Somerstime :). Sorry couldn’t resist. Great blog post Ed, as always.

  5. Cath Blakey · May 5, 2011

    hmmm day off, that sounds nice. Almost took some time off to play golf tomorrow, but decided i wasn’t good enough to keep up with the guys!! Diary is now full for tomorrow so no day off again!!!
    As a working Mum I find it hard to justify taking time off just for me, its either work, or family, or housework. But then i try to make the most of weekends and do things for me with my friends to make up for it. Work hard and play hard!

  6. Rich Cadden · May 5, 2011

    “If you can find a way of making your hobby pay then you’ll never work a day in your life”

    I think this is why I can end up checking e-mails at 23:30 on a Thursday night….. 🙂
    I see my vocation as just being me, so doesnt seem like ‘work’

    http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_if.htm

    • edreidyork · May 6, 2011

      Rich – good Kipling reference! Checking emails at 23:30 NOT so clever though

  7. Brian De Vere · May 6, 2011

    My answer is last week and I feel so much better for it. My only concern was that my son beat me at the golf!!!!

    Well done on your success though Ed.

    • edreidyork · May 6, 2011

      Hi Brian – oh dear, getting beaten at golf by your son – a life changing moment…Good luck next time

  8. Chris Wilson · May 6, 2011

    Just had 3 weeks of them! Forced on me but it was a lesson to demonstrate what others can do in my absence. Therefore the reply next time you pose the question will definitely by A

    • edreidyork · May 6, 2011

      Hi Chris – your break was not necessarily the type of break I was advocating!! But glad good things came from it – look forward to seeing the “A” soon

  9. Joanne Lyon · May 6, 2011

    My last day off was over the Easter Holidays spent in London watching my daughter dance at one of the theatres. Although London itself was probably more hectic than a day spent in the office I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    • edreidyork · May 6, 2011

      Hi Jo – quite jealous of a day in London! What a great reason for going down there too. Thanks for commenting

  10. Steven Partridge · May 6, 2011

    A – but that’s probably because of all the recent Bank Holidays!

    • edreidyork · May 6, 2011

      Congrats Steven – one of the only As – well done

  11. Zoe Martin · May 6, 2011

    I would have to say A this last month due to the various bank holidays. Does time to yourself include watching the kids?!? If not then it would have to be a C!

    • edreidyork · May 6, 2011

      Hi Zoe – a C is better than some others have managed, so not that bad!! Time with the kids – that’s got to be good, right?!

  12. Simon Hudson · May 6, 2011

    2 weeks skiing in Canada seems to have done the trick – and theorld didn’t end in my absence.
    A 4 day golf weekend planned at the end of May…
    Would love to have a 4 day week

    • edreidyork · May 6, 2011

      I can highly recommend the golf, obviously. I suspect you may enjoy it even more Simon if you win!

  13. Jo Clarkson · May 8, 2011

    Hi Ed

    Now I’m starting to feel a bit sheepish – because I’m in the A camp! And there’s a good reason – I struggled for years to take small slots of time out to do the ‘me’ things – and always found they got cancelled, often at very short notice, as meetings over-ran and ’emergencies’ cropped up (‘needs to improve time managment’ may be on the tip of your tongue here..!).

    I discovered that a day a month booked off work, where everyone knows I’m ‘on holiday’ works a treat – everyone accepts you’re entitled to holiday (even clients!) and so far it seems to work (well, apart from the one I had booked for this Monday which I had to cancel as we arranged our TAB Member Conference for that day – but that seemed a pretty good reason!!) So I’m on the A team – and actually I’m proud of it!!

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