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Go Ahead, Play Hooky Take a moment and reflect on your childhood. Did you ever lie about being sick to get out of school? I sure did. I guess that many of you did...

By Howie Jones

This story originally appeared on Calendar

Take a moment and reflect on your childhood. Did you ever lie about being sick to get out of school?

I sure did. I guess that many of you did well as well.

Once we hit the working world, this excuse feels just a little… questionable. For starters, as adults, we all know not to lie. More importantly, if you play hooky all the time, you can get into a lot of trouble.

Taking too much time off can cause you to lag behind in your work, not to mention the possibility of being fired if your boss discovers you took a day off under false pretenses. If you are a business owner or freelancer, this could damage your reputation or lead to a loss of clients.

But sometimes, even when you’re not ill, you need a day for yourself. However, to keep your job duties and responsibilities in check, you have to strike the right balance.

The question is, how do you find the right balance? When you play hooky, what should you do? Here’s a guide to help you find out just how to go about it.

However, let’s dispel the myths about taking a personal day and explore the powerful benefits it offers.

Myth #1: Personal days are for slackers.

Fact. The purpose of taking a personal day is not to escape responsibility. You need to take time to recharge so that you can be your best. You’re far less productive when you’re burnt out and stressed than when you’re refreshed and rejuvenated.

In fact, studies have shown that taking breaks is beneficial for creativity, focus, and problem-solving skills. Consider it preventative maintenance for your mind.

Myth #2: I can’t afford to take a day off.

Fact. In contrast to what is perceived as lost productivity, the cost of not taking a personal day is much higher. In addition to absenteeism, burned-out employees are more likely to presenteeism — being present physically but mentally disengaged). As a result, deadlines are missed, judgments are erroneous, and performance declines.

It is possible to avoid these pitfalls in the long run by spending a well-planned personal day.

Myth #3: There’s always something to do.

Fact. This is exactly why you should take a personal day!

Disengagement and novelty are two things our brains crave. You can return with fresh ideas and a renewed perspective when you step away from the constant mental churn. You can think of it as hitting the refresh button on your cognitive drive.

Why You Should Play Hooky

Still afraid to play hooky? Here are some reasons why you might reconsider.

Reboots your brain.

It is common for your brain to feel fried after being continually bombarded with information and stimuli. By taking a personal day, you can declutter your mind and give it a space to breathe.

As a result, you will be able to focus better, solve problems more effectively, and be more creative.

Combats burnout and sparks joy.

Burnout is a state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion caused by chronic stress and constant busyness. In addition to decreased productivity, irritability and even health problems can result from ignoring the warning signs.

Is this a valid concern? Yes. We are dealing with a serious issue since 89% of Americans suffered burnout in the last year.

The personal day provides a chance to escape the hamster wheel of work and reenergize the soul. Make the most of it by doing what you enjoy, whether it’s reading a good book, exploring a new area, or simply sitting in nature and listening to the wind. Engaging in activities you enjoy recharges your batteries and helps you remember what matters most.

Enhances your mood and well-being.

The effects of chronic stress and pressure can negatively impact your emotional well-being. Spending a day doing something you enjoy, whether it’s hiking alone, visiting a museum, or reading a book in a hammock, can boost your mood and reduce stress hormones.

“Mentally disengaging from work — not ruminating about work, not taking phone calls or checking emails — is strongly related to indicators of well-being,” says Charlotte Fritz, Ph.D., an organizational psychologist and faculty member in the psychology department at Portland State University in Oregon.

According to the American Psychological Association, these indicators include happier work and life, less reported stress and burnout, better sleep, and fewer health problems such as headaches and back pain.

Sparks inspiration.

New ideas can be unlocked by stepping away from the routine. By spending a personal day, you can learn about new environments, engage in new activities, and make new friends.

You may find unexpected inspiration from these experiences, resulting in personal or professional breakthroughs.

Strengthens your relationships (even with yourself).

When we’re buried under work, we often neglect our personal lives. As such, playing hooky is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with loved ones, mend neglected relationships, or simply take time for yourself.

Consider taking your partner on a picnic, visiting a friend, or calling a family member. Your support network and sense of happiness are strengthened when you invest time in your relationships.

Also, embrace a little alone time.

According to Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s One Thing blog, when it’s just you and you alone, you have a sense of freedom that is not possible when others are involved. You don’t have to impress anyone or worry about how people see you. It’s also quieter and less distracting. Your well-being and work performance will both benefit from this.

They add that research has found people come up with more ideas when brainstorming alone rather than in groups. When you have a hooky day, you may just solve the problem that has been bugging you at work. Additionally, there is evidence that working alone makes you more productive. You can even improve your concentration by spending time alone.

Most importantly? Dedicating some “me” time allows you to focus on yourself.

Improves your sleep.

You may experience sleep disturbances if you are constantly “on.” Sleeping in, catching up on rest, and establishing a healthy sleep routine are all possible with a personal day. Doing so can improve your health, increase your energy levels, and sharpen your brain.

Boosts your productivity.

A rested mind is a sharp mind. Research has shown that even short breaks can improve performance.

As such, personal day, on the other hand, is a deep dive into rejuvenation. Disconnecting from work allows your brain to defragment, clearing out the mental clutter that hinders efficiency. When you return, you’ll approach tasks with fresh eyes and renewed energy, tackling them with greater clarity and focus. Think of it as sharpening your mental ax before chopping wood — the sharper the ax, the easier the work.

The Right Way to Play Hooky

When it comes to taking time off, there are right and wrong ways to ask for it and appropriate reasons for doing so.

In light of this, below are some tips for taking a day off.

Be honest.

It’s important that you explain your reasons for taking the day off to your boss if possible.

I can’t overstate this; this isn’t necessarily a sick day. When people are on the verge of burnout, most managers understand the importance of playing hooky occasionally. However, if you’re taking a break because you don’t want to go to work, that’s not an excuse.

Schedule it like a meeting.

You shouldn’t take your personal day for granted. Therefore, block it out on your calendar and place the same amount of respect on it as you would a necessary appointment.

Another benefit of scheduling your day off? You can choose that day if you don’t have any important meetings or deadlines.

Be considerate.

If you take your day off, ensure you are not leaving anyone shorthanded or interfering with someone else’s work. In addition to inconveniencing one of your colleagues, you may also face unfinished tasks or angry coworkers later on.

Disconnect completely.

If you are playing hooky, resist the urge to check your emails or answer your phone. In addition, you can silence notifications to immerse yourself in the present.

Do what you love.

It’s your day, so make it count. Choose activities that are enjoyable and relaxing for you. It doesn’t matter what you do, whether reading, exploring nature, spending time with loved ones, or simply sleeping in.

Listen to your body.

By listening to your body, you become aware of how it responds to exercise, food, and other factors like energy. In addition, it refers to translating signals your body sends you, such as heart rate or breathing.

So, if you feel like you’re nearing burnout or completely depleted, you can relax, get a massage, or do anything else your body craves to slow down and recharge.

Be present.

Be sure not to let your mind wander back to work or unfinished tasks. Keep your attention on the experience you’re having and enjoy it.

Play hooky sparingly.

The next time you ask for another day off, be very careful if you’re the kind of person who often plays hooky. Most managers, co-workers, or clients will become angry enough with your behavior at some point to consider firing you. It’s not a good look.

Reflect and recharge.

List areas where your energy should be focused and reflect on your current status. Recharge today so you can come back to work motivated and refreshed.

Bonus tip: Do you want your personal day to be even more impactful? Consider volunteering, learning a new skill, or pursuing a personal goal. Investing in your personal growth or giving back to your community can bring immense satisfaction and a renewed sense of purpose to your life.

Final Words of Advice

You shouldn’t consider a personal day an escape from responsibility. Ultimately, it’s all about taking care of yourself, the most important tool in your arsenal. If you invest in your well-being, you’ll be better prepared to deal with any challenges you face.

So go ahead and play hooky. It’s well deserved. Plus, it will benefit your mind, body, and soul.

FAQs

What is a personal day?

You can use a personal day for any reason you choose without supplying specific details, whether paid or unpaid. An individual day is different from vacation time, which is usually planned in advance for leisure, or sick leave, which is generally taken when you’re sick or caring for an elderly relative.

Why should I take a personal day?

The following are some reasons why you should take a personal day:

  • To avoid burnout and recharge. Constant work makes it possible to become stressed, tired, and less productive. You can return to work refreshed and focused by taking a personal day to relax, unwind, and do something you enjoy.
  • To deal with personal issues. Your schedule can be disrupted by unexpected events such as family emergencies, doctor appointments, car repairs, or moving. You can handle these matters by taking a personal day without interfering with your work schedule.
  • Celebrating personal milestones. You might want to enjoy a birthday, wedding anniversary, or graduation without worrying about work.
  • The pursuit of hobbies and interests. Perhaps you want to work on a passion project, explore a creative pursuit, or just read, hike, or enjoy time in nature. On a personal day, you can do the things that you love.
  • To simply have a break. Some days, you just need to relax and do whatever you want.!

Do I need a “good reason” to take a personal day?

Justifying or explaining your decision to take a personal day is unnecessary.

Usually, your employer will not ask for details about how you used the day. However, if your absence could impact your work schedule, you should always inform your colleagues or supervisor in advance.

How many personal days do I get?

Your employer’s policy determines how many personal days you receive. While some companies give you a set number of days per year, others let you accumulate them over time. More information can be found in your employee handbook or contract or by contacting your HR department.

Can I use a personal day for sick leave?

Sick leave is often more appropriate for serious health issues than personal days. By doing this, your employer can ensure that insurance records and legal records are accurate.

Image Credit: Pixabay; Pexels

The post Go Ahead, Play Hooky appeared first on Calendar.

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