I played hooky last Monday. I know, you are likely saying, "Who takes the Monday off after an extra-long holiday weekend?" This guy. That's who.

We had 12 people at the house over the weekend and only the remaining two were left on Monday. We all decided to venture up into the mountains and go sledding.

Yes, I'm talking about hiking up a mountain trail and then hopping on a sled (hanging your legs off the front to slow down) and screaming (literally and figuratively) down the trail. A more fun Monday has never been had.

This time of year, there seems to be a plethora of extended weekends, holiday breaks and simple days taken off. And if you are not in the camp of those of us willing to step away from the computer, we collectively feel bad for you and are now encouraging you to take that break.

We all know this is a super stressful time of year. Do yourself, your friends, your family and your co-workers a favor and take the day off. Let's look at a few reasons why, though it seems silly to have to encourage you.

First and foremost, taking a break from work will help you solve problems. I spend the majority of my days in front of my three monitors, working on developing websites and writing code (mostly PHP for my curious, fellow nerds out there). One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in over a decade of doing this is stepping away from those glowing screens is almost always the best path to the solution I'm searching for.

I can stare at a problem, especially later at night, and the solution simply escapes me. But nine times out of 10, flipping on the screen in the morning with fresh eyes produces the answer in a matter of minutes. As I'm sure has happened to many of you, that elusive solution has also come to me while in the shower, driving down the road or munching on a cheeseburger. The trick is to simply step away.

Right along side the benefit of solving problems is generating more business and being more productive overall.

"Taking a break allows your brain to stop focusing on the immediate task in front of you and 'breathe' a little bit," Badger Realty agent Tara Peirce said.

I have had some great ideas about generating new business or developing a new app while being 10 miles back in the woods surrounded by nothing but snow and trees. We all tend to get a little tunnel-vision while we're stuck at the office. Stepping away removes those blinders and allows your brain to explore other avenues, ideas and opportunities.

Another great reason for taking a break is to maintain your sanity. A couple weeks ago, I took a short "staycation" and just hiked and biked for a week. The weeks leading up to that had become filled with more and more frustration and stress.

Even the most simple challenge was super frustrating and every small request seemed like an insurmountable task to undertake. I was quick to get annoyed by, well, just about everything. It became painfully obvious to me that I just needed a break.

The weeks preceding my break were incredibly busy. They were filled with long days, work keeping me at my desk until well past "bedtime" and a seemingly unending string of tasks filling my inbox. You may be able to manage that stress load better than me, but I have learned (albeit slowly) that I do not perform well under that sort of load.

I set the dates (both for me and my clients) and aimed for the break. It was fantastic just to have that goal in the distance. It made the workload more manageable to have an end in sight. And the result of the break was a return to my normal (more) balanced perspective and, honestly, an eagerness to get back to work.

One of the things I will always cherish about my dad, Steve Robie, is that he nearly always made it to our soccer games all throughout high school. He was a busy, on-the-road salesman and that job took him all over the Maine and New Hampshire countryside. But regardless of where his day took him, he made our games a priority.

While that is not technically "taking a day off,'' he was most certainly skipping out on visiting that next lumberyard in favor of watching his sons play a game. Taking time off for your family is truly one of the most important reasons I can think of.

I don't have a family of my own, but taking time for friends and family will provide a return for you that cannot be measured in salaries or promotions. See you on the trails. I'll be the one screaming past you on my sled on the way down.

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