Motivation Monday: take your PTO

By Loralyn Mears PhD Loralyn Mears PhD has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on July 29, 2019

Monday Motivation here we come! This is for those of you who slog through your Monday mornings. If you lament the end of the weekend and dread returning to the office, you may need our Motivation Monday quick tips. Grit Daily offers an avenue to connect with others like you. We’re here to help get your work week off to a good start. Pump your fists – it’s time for Motivation Monday!


Awesome update

Here’s a little some-something that made my Monday morning. My Motivation Monday column was just named as one of the Top 200 lifestyle blogs. Check us out on Feedspot!


You’ve earned it

Indeed, you have earned every second, every minute and every hour of your vacation. You’ve worked hard at everything that you’ve done for the past few months – or year – since you last took a vacation. But, for whatever reasons, Americans don’t seem to take time off. In fact, just over half (52%) of Americans didn’t take their earned vacation time in 2017. Roughly translated, about 700 million vacay days go up in smoke every year: unused and lost forever.

The trend is even more disturbing: Americans are taking less vacation time year over year. Forbes has gone so far as to dub America as “the no vacation nation.” Why is that? People cite numerous reasons for skipping out on their earned PTO (paid time off). These include the fear of returning to a hot mess and more stress if they take time away from their projects, an inability to unplug and fear that their boss will be displeased then derail any opportunity for advancement. Others simply lack the financial latitude required for a vacation.

Fret not, this is motivation Monday and we’re going to figure this out!


How the other side of the pond lives

Interestingly and quite shockingly, the USA is the only developed nation in the world that does not have laws which mandate vacation time. Here, it is at the discretion of your employer. In contrast, all European countries have laws which require at least 4 weeks of paid time off.

Can you even imagine four weeks?! If moving to Europe has suddenly found its way on to your To-Do list, then head to Austria. Their laws guarantee 22 days of vacation, and that’s in addition to the 13 federal holidays, each year. Some USA-based employers are updating their policies to offer employees more perks, which includes more PTO, to drive retention.

The unsettling flipside of that is one in four Americans (25%) do not have any PTO. The hospitality industry including restaurants and hotels, particularly for cleaning staff and other lower entry positions, are brutally affected. Note to self: always tip your maid and food staff!

So, you may be thinking, okay, those people have a lot of flexibility in their jobs. Or they can walk out of one job today and start a new one tomorrow. The answer is no, not really. It’s actually the opposite: these people are terrified of losing their jobs so they accept whatever the conditions are and do not request any changes.


What if you work for yourself?

You probably do, given that 56.7 million Americans were identified as freelancers according to a 2018 survey by UpWork. The numbers are staggering when you realize that this equates to just over 1 billion (yes, that’s a “B”) hours per week. As a freelancer myself, these numbers are precisely why I’m writing today’s motivation Monday column.

Don’t be a stubborn goat! Try these motivation Monday tips!

When you work for yourself, you’re not thinking about vacation. Well, in fairness, depending on the type of work that you do, you may be thinking about vacation ALL. THE. TIME. But never taking it! You’re always hustling to get your next gig, working on a gig or invoicing for the last gig. But that’s not productive. Just as you schedule client meetings and other activities day-to-day and week-to-week, you need to block off time to recharge.

And, here comes the emphatic no, time off to recharge doesn’t mean hopping a flight to the Caribbean or something wonderfully exotic like the Maldives. It means taking a day for yourself when you need it. That day may involve touring museums or driving to the nearest beach or lake, sitting on a bench in Central Park and people-watching or whatever you like. Make it a stayday if a vacay out-of-town isn’t within your reach. Or taking that day to do something spontaneous with your kid, your bae or just kicking it with a couple of friends. Whatever it is, even if you’re a freelancer and the time is unpaid time off, just do it!


Motivation Monday tips to take time off

It’s actually rather sad that we need to consciously think about how we take time away from work to heal ourselves. But, this is 2019 and we are all part of the fabric of the society and culture that we have helped create. So, let’s find our motivation Monday ju ju and figure out how we’re going to do this.

#1 – think itty bitty

Start small. Taking a day off may be a huge step for you, a luxury that you’ve rarely indulged in. Think about a dreamy day. Would you sleep in? Or get up early to run along the beach to greet the sunrise? Make a list of what you’d like to do. Now, here comes the tough part, circle whichever activities are truly within your budget reach.

#2 – the more the merrier

Some things are better with two or more people. Case in point, budget math. If you can find a friend to split the hotel and gas with you or have them drive while you pack the picnic, you open up some additional vacay options.

#3 – resist the urge

Those emails and phone calls aren’t likely to stop while you’re taking your stayday or vacay. So YOU need to be the one to stop answering them. Unless you’re a nuclear arms expert waiting for the call, “They hit the red button!” to come in, the world will probably keep turning while you recharge.

Some will argue that they need to set aside at least an hour per day during their vacay so that they know what’s going on and can then relax, but experts disagree. It hurts your mental and physical health and it makes you less productive at work. Park your phone. Ignore it and practice mindfulness.

Embrace the moment and feel that sand under your feet. Let the beach waves smash into your shins. Absorb the energy of the sun. Lose yourself in the artistry and magic of a museum masterpiece. Listen to birds and crickets. Make it a motivation Monday unlike you’ve had in a long time, one so memorable, that you will be thinking about your next stayday or vacay before you’ve even completed the current one.


By Loralyn Mears PhD Loralyn Mears PhD has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Dr. Loralyn Mears is a Columnist at Grit Daily and a podcast host (The Grit Files, which aims to shine the spotlight on female founders). She is a content marketer, founder of the WORKtech startup, STEERus, specializing in personal and professional development to address gaps in soft skills - communication in particular. In her consultancy practice, she helps clients with content and strategy. Loralyn spent over a decade playing with mosquito DNA, got her PhD, decided she would rather market science than be at the bench and has never looked back. Along the way, she’s wined and dined her way around the globe. She's authored two books, including the 2018 Gold Medal Indie Book award-winning, One Sip At a Time: a Memoir and the hard science thriller, "The Battle for Humanity: How Science Saved Us." 

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