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Time Off From Work Is Important During COVID-19

By Maurie Backman - May 14, 2020 at 9:18AM

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Many workers are hesitant to take a break from the grind right now -- and that's problematic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way a lot of people do their jobs. Nowadays, a large number of employees are working from home for the first time, and while some are thriving, others are struggling with issues like productivity dips, a lack of concentration, and burnout.

The latter may come as a bit of a surprise. When we think of burnout, we tend to imagine workers clocking in long hours at the office day in, day out. But in theory, remote work shouldn't cause burnout. After all, you don't have a boss constantly breathing down your neck, and you can simply close your laptop and finish up for the day more easily than you can in an office.

Man at laptop holding his head

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

But believe it or not, more than 50% of people who are now working from home are struggling with burnout, according a recent Monster survey. Worse yet, 52% of employees no have plans to take time off during the pandemic to decompress. But that's a mindset that could be really detrimental in the long run.

You need the break

The fact that more than half of workers aren't planning time off right now is understandable. After all, why take time away from work when there's nowhere to really go? But while now may not be the time to plan a week-long escape, you should indulge in a mental-health day every so often, especially if you've been clocking in long hours and are starting to feel the strain.

At a time when the country is in crisis mode, the occasional mental-health day could really make a difference. And it could help your performance, too. Taking a break from your job for a bit could enable you to come back feeling more refreshed and ready to tackle the tasks on your plate. And that, in turn, may help on the concentration and productivity fronts.

Don't push yourself too hard

One big reason a lot of workers risk burning out today is that there's no separation between office and home. That makes it easy to push yourself to keep working later and later -- it's not like you have a train to catch or dinner plans you need to show up for. But remember, the last thing you need at a time like this is to let yourself get mentally worn down by work. So if you feel a bout of burnout coming on, cut back your hours and consider taking at least a day or two off to recharge. And if you're worried about backlash, be open with your boss. Chances are, your manager will support you in your efforts to stave off burnout and maintain your sanity at a time when that's so important.

If you're really concerned about taking time off, ask strategically. Wait until you've finished a big project, rather then request a vacation day in the middle of one.

Finally, don't feel guilty about stepping back from the job. You may think you have no excuse to take a day off when you're able to do your work from the comfort of home, but it's that very line of thinking that could make an otherwise trying period even more stressful for you.

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