Do you take enough holiday days? Do you even track how many days off you take per year? Prior to my recent move to Pinhoe my honest answer to both of those questions would be “No”. Being self employed and with a family to support it is easy to fall into the habit of allowing months to slip by and not take enough proper downtime, especially if you are like me and try to minimise the number of patients you rearrange unnecessarily. I don’t think I have taken an uninterrupted 2 weeks off since starting as an associate 7 years ago!
Quite a lot of the books I have read or listened to over the last 18 months have stressed the need for and benefits of planning proper rest in your day, week and year. Great books such as Peak Perfomance and How to be a productivity ninja give very good evidence for increased productivity as well as improved wellbeing for individuals who can get this balance right.
So as part of my move to Pinhoe I am making a few active changes to how I plan, log, and ultimately utilise my days off. For starters I am now actually noting down how many days off I am taking, which is something I have never done before. Doing this has made me realise that historically I have not been good at actually utilising the holiday allowance I am entitled to which encourages me to think “let’s book an extra few days off here or there”. Secondly I have worked with my practice manager to automatically take every 6th Monday off meaning I am never too far away from a long weekend. Sometimes I might alter the date of these to better coincide with other events or bank holidays etc but I think it definitely helps to prevent burnout if you know there is a long weekend coming up.
When a day off or long weekend or even an extended break does come around I am trying to be more proactive about how I use that time. I am the first to admit that I find it difficult to leave my phone alone for long periods of time. So much of my idea logging, time management, information gathering and connectivity with my website and other forums occurs via my phone. However when I do have a day off I am trying to be more mindful of my phone use. I might set myself a predetermined time when it is OK to be on the phone. Then when that is finished I will deliberately leave my phone by the bed or in the kitchen rather than keeping it in my pocket. This makes it easier to actually relax, do other tasks and connect with my family.
Next week I am going to the South of France with some of my close family although my original flight was cancelled yesterday because of French strikes which has been a huge pain to sort out! While there I plan to really use this as a proper rest time. I will be really trying to disconnect from my phone a lot more and doubling down on my reading, Tai Chi and meditation time. So if you see me on any of the Facebook dental forums please feel free to tell me to go away!
How do you make sure you get the most from your time off?
Dr Chris Harper