National Leave the Office Early Day was created several years ago by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE. This special day is observed on June 2 each year. If June 2 will fall on a Saturday or Sunday, it’s celebrated on the closest weekday. A fellow productivity specialist, Laura’s goal was to bring attention to the fact that at that time, Americans were working an average of 49 hours per week – nine hours more than the standard 40-hour work week. Overworked professionals needed to take a break.
And today, they still do.
We’re emerging from two years of living through a pandemic, lockdowns, and the use of words like “uncertainty” and “pivot.” Now, more than ever, we really need a break from work.
Even before COVID, my individual clients and my workshop participants shared that often times the line between work life and home life was blurred. Even when they were at home, they were checking email in the evenings and thinking about everything they needed to complete at work. There was very much a lack of downtime and recharging.
Then COVID hit. The world was forced to work from home. Lines became even more blurred because we took Zoom calls and meetings from our living spaces while wearing pajama bottoms. Our devices were always at our fingertips. Colleagues were working at different times of the day and night in order to finish up the work they couldn’t get done while helping their kids attend school virtually or taking care of loved ones who no longer had home healthcare workers coming to help them. On top of that, since emails were rolling in at all times of the day and night, many people felt that they should be there to support their colleagues, so they started working nearly around the clock.
As we learned to adapt to working from home and then a hybrid of home and office and then back to onsite, many of those COVID habits didn’t go by the wayside. We’re still working (or thinking about work) during most of our waking hours.
This is not good for our productivity levels. In order to operate at maximum efficiency and effectiveness, we need physical rest and mental rest. Being “on” for working around the clock is also not good for our mental health. Not allowing a disconnect from work means all of our thinking and emotional time goes to our job instead of spending time on self-care, instead of further developing relationships and interests not related to work, instead of expanding our personal horizons. This one-dimensionality jeopardizes our physical health, mental health and overall well-being.
When you don’t allow your body, mind and soul to rejuvenate, this causes a drop in your energy, which leads to reacting instead of responding, which leads to making less-than-stellar decisions about where your time will go.
Whether you are working from home or onsite or a hybrid, you need a mental, physical and emotional break from work.
If you are unable to leave the office early on June 2, I encourage you to take a look at your calendar right now to figure out which day in May or June you can leave the office early.
If you want to recharge completely, choose a full day (or two or three) when you won’t work at all! Yes, you heard me correctly. Do more than just leave the office early on a single day. Take a few days off for a vacation or staycation.
Your mind, body and soul will thank you.
If you need a step-by-step guide to leave the office early or leave work behind for a couple of hours, a couple of days, or a couple of weeks, check out these Escape from Work options in online or book format.