Man, I just can't get motivated to do any work today. I don't know What it is, I'm just not feeling it at all. Any tips?
Take the day off. Do something you love and come back tomorrow feeling refreshed and productive.
Outrageous, huh? Telling someone to take the day off work just because they feel like it.
It's true that years ago I might have offered up a few motivational tips on how to increase productivity at work instead. But no. Taking the day off was absolutely the right advice and remedy in this situation.
And here's why, when you feel like this, you should talk a day off too.
The friend I was speaking to runs an online shop. He is a super hard worker and has put himself through hell to make self-employment a viable option. He fully deserves a day off, and he certainly won't starve if he does put his feet up for a day.
The thing is, self-employed or employed by a company, we've become victims of a work culture that dictates that unless we are physically sick we shouldn't take a day off –unless it's the weekend of course.
Many of us think nothing of dragging ourselves into work with a cold – a sore throat, runny nose and feeling drained of energy.
Even though the body is screaming at us not to go in, we don't want to be that person who took a day off “just because she/he had a cold”, which of course is madness because everyone else ends up getting the cold and ultimately more man hours are lost than were initially necessary.
If you've worked in an office for a reasonable period of time, you know what I mean. People can get quite nasty about others who take sick days: “She's not sick AGAIN is she?” “Day off? He's only got a little cold!”…
There's a virtual hero badge to be gained for the soldier who battles on no matter how sick or stressed. In fact, many people view this as a requirement for promotion. The corporate culture loves the worker who never has a day off, and bosses tend to favour those willing to sacrifice their health for the good of the company.
Me personally, I am a total wimp when it comes to being ill, and I certainly won't work when I feel like trash. Why force your body to be active when it is clearly telling you to rest?
The soreness, the lack of energy and appetite are ways of your body telling you to lie down, get plenty of fluids, rest and have an early night. Basically, exactly what your other always told you.
I appreciate that for those on zero hours contracts, and those who don't get sick pay, taking a day off isn't really an option, but where possible we should all be mindful of what our bodies are telling us and take as long as we need to restore full health.
But let's forget physical health for a moment. What of our mental health?
Work-related stress is the underlying cause of so many health problems, and relationship problems for that matter, yet we tend to associate this type of stress with the likes of big business workers like investment bankers and high flying entrepreneurs, but in truth it can happen to anyone.
Coincidentally, the friend who sparked the penning of this post is someone I used to work with. When we were at the company our department had a wonderful director, a really funny, friendly, happy-go-lucky guy. He had a great job, two lovely kids and seemingly had it made. He never seemed stressed.
Two years after leaving work I found out he had a nervous breakdown due to the stress of the job. It took six months off for him to recover.
Looking back, I don't remember him having a day off. He had one family holiday in the two years I knew him, was always in two hours before everyone else and his smartphone never left his palm – even when he went to the toilet.
A breakdown like this can happen to anyone, and none of us are immune to the physical and mental stress that comes with constantly forcing yourself to work harder.
So don't wait until you are bedridden with flu to take a day off. When you hear the proverbial wolves clawing at the door, and your ability to self motivate has been shattered, take a day off and recharge. Even if you have to tell your boss you have a headache, do it.
Consider it a white lie, because in the long run you and the company will be better off for it. I can almost guarantee that you'll go in feeling more driven, and most importantly of all you'll feel empowered in the knowledge that you took your life into your own hands and made a decision on your mental freedom.
Companies don't own us. Work doesn't own us. It is important as free-thinking beings that we don't feel constantly trapped and indebted to work all the time, particularly when it is work we aren't fond of.
It is important that we have the freedom to say, “The thought of doing that today makes me feel terrible, so I won't”.
We need this power of choice sometimes to recenter, to find ourselves, to reset the compass and turn off the autopilot.
But remember, when you do take the day off, you mustn't do anything work related. This must be a complete work detox.
Do things that soothe your mind, not things that “you must catch up on” like the washing and cleaning: you'll never feel like you truly had a day off if you go and do things like that (unless these are passions of yours).
Do all those things you would love to do but never get around to because of work: Things like reading, writing, painting or going for a walk in the park, or maybe just doing absolutely nothing but chilling with your feet up. It doesn't matter what you do. This is your time, and you deserve it.