In the United States, paid leave is a perk. While most employers do choose to provide the perk of PTO, not all employees are taking full advantage.

Based on a 2019 poll of nearly 2,600 U.S. adults (Bankrate), only 52% reported that they were definitely taking a summer vacation. According to the same survey, only 38% of respondents who receive paid vacation days plan to use them all. More alarming statistics come from a 2018 Glassdoor survey that showed the average U.S. employee only took 54% of their eligible vacation/PTO in the past 12 months, and 66% of Americans report working even when they do take vacation.

There are plenty of similar studies in existence, each one as shocking as the next, that allude to the challenges of work-life balance. There are also countless studies and sources that link overworking to a host of health problems. Stress, less sleep, and too much time sitting down, to name a few, can all lead to episodes of depression, higher BMIs, increased risk for chronic disease, cardiovascular problems, and more. This doesn't even begin to cover the mental/emotional tolls that come with the inability to balance work and you.

What does working smarter look like in sales?

Sales as a profession is challenging‚ and most sales professionals can probably attest to that fact. The long hours, demanding nature and always "on" mentality can make it hard to take time off. So how can you prioritize your personal life while still excelling in your profession?

  • Keep yourself and your schedule organized. Dedicate time to partake in your favorite hobbies and physically write them into your calendar. Seeing how your time is allotted can be hugely beneficial. Plan vacation or personal days well in advance and stick to them, but also understand an unplanned personal day to unwind after a busy week can have the power to recharge. Both are necessary!
  • Make time for the things you love, which can be easily incorporated into your workday. Are you traveling to a city where an old friend resides? Schedule a lunch with them. Workout on a lunch hour once a week or listen to your favorite podcast or audiobook. Whatever it is that makes you feel energized‚ take the time to do it and thank yourself later!
  • Reassess the goals you're working towards so your time in the office is optimized. If you find yourself spending all your time caught up in a task that isn't aligned with the original goal you set for the project, reevaluate why you're doing it. Don't waste your time and risk burn-out for something that isn't getting you any closer to achieving what you set out to do!

When you're feeling overwhelmed or are struggling with the integration of your work and personal life, circle back to these tips and remember, "You don't have to make yourself miserable to be successful. It's natural to look back and mythologize the long nights and manic moments of genius, but success isn't about working hard, it's about working smart." - Andrew Wilkinson, founder of MetaLab