Finding Balance: Taking a Break From Work Without Feeling Guilty

As the year draws to a close, many of us will be looking forward to the Christmas 🎄 break and spending quality time with our families.

I have always saved up my holiday to use over this period. I usually end up taking 2 weeks before New Year and a week going into January (in the UK we generally get at least 25 days a year).

For software developers working on 24/7 systems, there is often some on-call work thrown in over the holiday period. After all, we need to keep that money-making machine running for our companies 🤑.

As a result, I have always found it difficult to relax. Even if I wasn’t on-call that day, as an engineering manager I could still get called out if the issue couldn’t be solved by the person on the rota. I would find myself checking Slack throughout the day to make sure there weren’t any fires 🔥 to put out.

On the days when I really needed to be present with my family, I would often feel guilty that I wasn’t working. Especially during the first week of January when many of the team would be back and often needing my input.

How do you take a break and not feel guilty?

If you are like me and you find yourself feeling guilty for taking time off then here are a few things to think about.

If you are not the CEO then you need to remember, that it is not your company.

Companies like to foster a family-like environment but companies aren’t your family. Your family isn’t going to abandon you because they spent too much money in the metaverse and it didn’t pay off. Your family isn’t going to kick you out on Christmas Day because they thought 2022 was going to be the same as 2020 and 2021 (sorry the analogy went south there 😀).

You are entitled to your days off and you don’t need to be contactable either.

Even if you are CEO, or a one-man company, taking a break is essential for good mental health and in most cases, you will have more energy when you do go back to work.

Time off when on a sabbatical

This year is different as I am on a sabbatical. For once I don’t have to feel guilty for taking time off. Although I am sure I will still have that nagging feeling that I should be doing something.

If you feel like this year has been too much and you could do with an extended break then you might like to look at how to take a sabbatical.

On that note, this is the last email from me this year. The next one would have been scheduled for 25th December but I am pretty sure most people will have better things to do than read an email from me that day.

I am also taking a couple of weeks off from YouTube as well, with the last video of the year going out on 16th December.

I hope you all have a fantastic break and I am excited about all the new content I have planned for next year!


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