The auto repair industry, like any other, has its own unique set of challenges and stressors, and in order to keep your shop operating year round, you might be wary of any time spent "unproductively." Especially when your work is keeps you busy with its fast pace in a constantly changing industry, owners and techs alike are at a high risk of feeling overworked, frustrated, and burnt out.
The good news is that science has proven that workers of all kinds can reap the benefits of hobbies, stress relief, and vacations in order to improve or restore their mental and physical health—making them more productive in the long run. For our rundown of the value of these various methods of taking "time off" and why they're so important, keep reading.
The Importance of Hobbies
Having a hobby, or an interest or activity that you pursue outside your profession, actually has huge benefits for your health and mental wellbeing, in the shop and outside. One study showed that the less relevant a hobby is to someone's profession, the larger impact that hobby has on workplace performance. Hobbies like sports, crafts, traveling, and more improve your mood and allow you to take a break from stressful work-related thoughts and tasks. Hobbies provide opportunities to make and develop social relationships outside of work that further promote a separating balance between your work and personal life. Besides acting as pastimes that bring you joy and relaxation, hobbies are also important tools for developing personal skills like problem solving, focus, creativity, and more.
The Power of Stress Relief
While it's well known that prolonged exposure to stress and stressful situations can negatively impact anyone's overall health and outlook, it may be lesser known that the key to managing work-related stress is identifying stress factors both on and off the job. By paying close attention to the things and situations that cause stress, you can create a list of common stressors to avoid. Additionally, it's important to take breaks in your work—even just taking a five or ten minute walk can help owners and techs escape from a negative headspace and face problems with a clearer, more positive perspective. Additionally, if work stressors start to block your ability to complete tasks or stay focused, simply talking about the situation with your team can help you find a solution or compromise to get you back on track.
The Benefits of Vacation
In today's "always-on" culture, there are numerous professionals who don't take full advantage of their vacation time for multiple reasons. One survey has shown that among several major industries, auto shop owners took the least amount of vacation time of all at nine or fewer days. However, making the most of your vacation time is one of the best ways to avoid overwhelm and burnout. While you might fear that you're losing valuable time and productivity by taking time off, vacations actually make workers more productive when they return, happy and refreshed. Taking the time to relax and escape the monotony of everyday business has been shown to improve sleep and heart health, too. And perhaps most of all, vacation time is a great method for recuperating from stress, or avoiding it in the first place.
In conclusion, the secret to productivity isn't constantly working and taking on new responsibilities. Instead, the best way to approach productivity and ensure all your repairs are high quality is by taking a preventative approach and encouraging your entire team to take the time they need off the clock for self care.