For those of us who are granted personal days, the biggest challenge is using this time to our benefit. Not all sick days are just for that, so using them to accomplish personal tasks is not a bad idea. But if you're like me, taking any time off is probably a gut-wrenching decision. You face the daunting reality of either leaving your work piled up on your desk or staying home to get your personal work accomplished.
Let's face it, there are not enough hours in the day to strive for that work-life balance - especially when you have children. Weekdays are devoted to work, weeknights are spent helping children with their homework or making it to scheduled practices. Then comes the weekends, which are, once again, divided between work, homework, and practice. Let's not forget the piling laundry, the favorite meals you've promised to make the kids, the housework, the hobby you started but can't seem to dedicate time to - and you get the picture.
So, is there a middle ground? The truth is, I'm still searching for that balance. There is so much to accomplish but it requires the devotion and energy that is difficult to carve out of a full-time professional/domestic schedule. So, I write a little, study a little, read a little and then reach out to family and friends when I'm at my wits end. It is through this process that my balance is reached.
The way I see it, balance should not be taken so literally. It does not mean that you devote as much time to Task A as you do to Task B, but that you take advantage of every opportunity to do all you want to do, which is why taking personal time should not make you literally sick.
Here's the thing: being productive does not entail sitting at your desk for eight hours. It also encompasses personal growth gained by taking care of you, the individual. This also includes using that personal time to cross off that unbearably long to-do list, especially if it's a mental one. It's impossible to be a superstar professional when that list haunts us, especially when we're at work. It creates mental clutter that prevents us from focusing on the tasks at hand.
By all means, use that personal time. Not because you're lazy or unmotivated, but because it will help you become the best professional you are striving to be.