This workaholic needs a holiday

Martin port

By Martin Port

16 July 2020

I’ve done it. I’ve booked two weeks off in August.

This might not seem much of an achievement but I really struggle to take holidays. I love my job, and I am completely focused on building BigChange and improving the service we offer customers.

Sometimes, though, this makes it hard to switch off. Being ‘on’ all the time can be mentally draining. Recently, I’ve started looking at my packed calendar and I’ve felt overwhelmed, rather than energized.

You need to take breaks in order to recharge. I am always encouraging my colleagues to take holidays and have a rest but it’s hard to take my own medicine.

The COVID-19 outbreak has forced many of us to work from home. Leaders feared that this would adversely affect productivity: would staff be able to manage their time well? How do workers perform when there’s no one watching?

According to the Office for National Statistics, there was only a slight dip in productivity at the start of lockdown – down just 0.4% compared with the same period in 2019. Considering the level of disruption and upheaval, that’s a pretty incredible result.

Now that we truly understand that virtual working can be just as productive as an office-based environment, we must deal with another issue: people who are engaged, driven and ambitious will struggle to stop working.

A recent survey of more than 2,000 people by LinkedIn and the Mental Health Foundation found that Brits who have been working from home since the coronavirus outbreak have been putting in an extra 28 hours of overtime a month. This has taken its toll: more than half (56%) said that they felt “more anxious and stressed” about work than they did before the pandemic. Right now, 12% of workers are logging on before 7am and 18% are still working 12 hours later.

I’ve also noticed that my working day is creeping later and later. The time and energy I’m saving on travelling means I get an extra half hour in bed in the morning, but then I never take a lunch break and find myself still working at 11pm. I’m so much more productive at home and I have a PA yet I’m putting in extra hours. It shouldn’t be this way.

Strong managers will need to ensure that they enforce boundaries, and don’t allow team members to burn out by working long hours. But I am my own manager, and I need to take responsibility for my own mental health.

My wife and I both need to be mindful of ‘burn out’. When I told Mandy I’d booked two weeks off for us to take a holiday she said, ‘I refuse. You go. I’ll work!’ We are a pair of workaholics.

I’m hoping to win Mandy over by finding somewhere really brilliant to go. I don’t want to fly anywhere – I want to help support the British economy by having a ‘staycation’ instead.

I hope some of you reading this can help me out. Where shall we go? We like walking, golf, and we would love to take our dog with us – otherwise we’re open to ideas. We want to keep maintaining social distance, so we will need our own space – and I doubt I could convince Mandy and the kids to go camping.

Make sure you get a holiday in the diary too. I’m sure you need a break as badly as we do.

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