Last year I realized that I needed to begin taking one day off a week. At the time I was working very hard seven days a week, often going many months without taking a day off to rest and relax. At the time I was a single bachelor with very little family in the area where I lived, so I didn’t really have anyone I would rather spend time with instead of working. I had work and some friends, but not much else.
At the time I was working eight hours a day at United Way until 5 PM, then I would transition into “A Day of Hope mode” where I would work for the next three hours on fundraising letters, recruiting volunteers, our e-newsletter and social media we had going. Then, on Saturdays I would often do a fundraiser car wash for A Day of Hope and then Sunday was catch up day on administrative work.
However, after working for several years this way it began to take a tole on my body. I began to have some tendinitis in my right arm and felt really burnt out. Because I knew my mild health issues were probably self-inflicted from my extremely hard work regimen, I realized that it was something I could probably change, if I changed my work and rest habits.
as a result I began taking Sundays off from work. The affects this has had on me has been extremely significant in my life as a leader and as a man. Let me quickly summarize what I learned from taking one-day off a week:
1. I was refreshed – When Monday morning came around, I always felt refreshed because I had an entire day off to rejuvenate and get ready for the week. Before, when I was working seven days a week, Monday would come around and I would feel burnt out and tired. I never gave myself a break to just rest and relax. But once I began taking one day to just rest and relax, I was able to actually start every week fresh. And it felt good.
I never quite realized how burnt out I was until I took some time off.
2. I was more productive with the time I had – When I realized I only had six days a week to get the work done that I normally took seven days to do, I had to find a resolution. And that resolution was to be more productive by focusing on the work that was so important that it had to get done. Especially the work that needed to be done by me.
I became focused on the work that only I could do, and I didn’t allow anything to stand in my way of getting it done effectively and of high quality.
3. God and my team took care of the rest – This was due to a book I read entitled, Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley. It totally changed the way I looked at the balance between my work and life. I began to make family more of a priority, and work came second. And in making work my second priority, I learned to trust God and my team to take care of the work I couldn’t do.
This takes major trust as a leader and a follower of Christ. I have learned to allow Him to take care of the work I can’t get done and to allow Him to make the big things happen that I normally would make happen with pure hard work and motivation.
Learning to trust my team to do the rest puts a big burden on them. It causes them to have to be competent and effective in making things happen that I normally would see through all the way until the end. I had to learn to let go, allow them to do the work, give them some of the credit in the process, and to trust them overall to make it all happen.
This past year of learning to take one day off a week has been a real stretch, but it has freed me up to be more productive and enjoy more time with family. I encourage you to do the same.
Question: Have you had a similar experience where you began to work less?