No one will ever accuse me of leaving any vacation days on the books. But according to statics I’m the minority. In 2016, Americans forfeited 206 million vacation days. A new study from Project: Time Off, indicates we are likely missing out on much more, too. In late 70’s statics showed Americans understood the importance of getting away from the office. On average, we were taking off more than 20 days a year. More current statistics show it’s now down to just 16 days a year.
The first day of summer is 21 days away. Top of your TO DO list today
- Schedule time off for a vacation
I know what you’re thinking you don’t have time for a vacation. Find out why you NEED to make time, here with 5 benefits of using your vacation days.
Have you noticed you’re constantly pushing off dates with your hubby or canceling “girls night” with your best friends because of work or exhaustion? When was the last time your kids saw your fun side? The reality is these are the people you’ll be sharing this lifetime with, not your coworkers. Disconnecting from work when you get home in the evening is hard these days. Technology makes it easier than ever to check your emails from your home and that phone you never put down keeps you distracted at the dinner table. Load that family up and pitch a tent over a long weekend and get to know your family. Sure, work is important… hey we’ve got to pay the bills but you won’t regret the occasional day off to spend on the couch with your partner, lunch with your tribe, or a play date with the kids. Taking time off helps remind us that we are a person with interest and hobbies. Taking the time to remember what they are with the most important people in your life will help us remember why we go to work every day.
- Send the right message to your employer
Ever brag about “never taking time off?” You probably also find yourself skipping lunch, staying late or coming in early. Without realizing it your sending the message that you can’t handle your work load and your boss has noticed. If you overwork yourself, you’re just going to burn out, get sick, and eventually do a disservice to your employer, your career, and your health.
Thinking your workplace will shut down if you’re not there to “handle everything” sends a negative vibe to your co-workers. Realizing you’re not as important as you think you are, keeps you grounded and appreciative of those around you. So instead of burying yourself in another project hand it off to a coworker with confidence and schedule those vacation days. This message is clear.
“I’ve got this and everything is going to be okay while I’m gone.”
This kind of confidence will get your coworkers and your bosses attention in a positive way.
- Recharge yourself mentally and physically
The anxiety that builds when you work like a million days all in a row, is evident. It’s only a matter of time before your brain gives out on you. Ideas dry up, and routine tasks become painfully challenging. Honestly look back on the work you’ve completed, is it your best stuff? Taking even one day off from the daily grind can help you be more creative, innovative and actively engaged.
Work stress has a negative effect on you physically as well. If you’re routinely putting in 10-12 hour days, 7 days a week, your body will rebel. Irritability, fatigue, insomnia, inability to concentrate, memory loss, eye strain and the unattractive result from lack of sleep, dark circles, are all signs your working too hard. Without recharging your battery, prolong abuse can also become a more serious health concern including high blood pressure, weight gain, hair loss, depression, digestive problems, skin problems or much worse.
If you want to give your best to your career you need to take care of yourself. If you think your burnout is going unnoticed, your wrong. You can only fake it for so long. If you’ve started hearing comments from your coworkers like “are you okay?” and “You look tired” then your cover’s been blown. They are on to you and even the most innovative excuses won’t cover for your poor performance. The cure is simple, pencil in some time off. Your mind and body not to mention that coworker you snapped at, will all thank you.
- Get inspired
Your creativity comes from your surroundings, if all you ever see are the walls of your cubical then it’s safe to say your inspiration will be limited. You know the refreshed feeling you get when you take 10 minutes away from your desk? Imagine how you’d feel if you took a few days or even a week away. Even if your career isn’t in a creative field you need to fuel you spirit to be at your best. You can’t be an interesting person if all you ever talk about is work. Have you ever endured a long-suffering story about someone’s coworker? Yeah that’s because all they have too share is what they’ve heard around the water cooler. You don’t want to be that person. Imagine the story’s you could share about your vacation to Greece or the Red Woods in northern California, and yes please pull out the photos. Inspire others to go on adventures. You’ll return to work rejuvenated and enthusiastic about life, because you actually have one.
- Adjusting your compass
When was the last time you woke up in the morning excited about going to work? Is your day filled with routines that you perform out of habit?
Are you even happy at work?
Taking time away from the office can help you navigate where you’re headed and gain perspective. It can be scary to reevaluate your career especially if you’ve invested several years towards it. You owe it to yourself to take time off and open your mind to all the possibilities. Allow yourself to day-dream on the beach over a long weekend, what’s that dream life look like? You may find that a day off gets your gears turning and helps you focus more on the tasks that get you the results you’re after or maybe you need to change directions all together.
As a parent, we are always setting an example, good and bad, for our children. Of course, we want to instill a good work ethic but you also need to show them how to live a balanced and enriching life. What kind of message are we sending when we express guilt for taking the day off or consider vacation time as an indulgence? Walking away from the computer, leaving the cell on vibrate or better yet turning it off and ignoring emails for a day or two teach a valuable lesson. Show them by example that they are a priority and that life doesn’t always have to be an urgent issue. Teaching them to appreciate down time will set them up for physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Less than half of America’s workforce use all their vacation days. If that’s because you just can’t afford to take a vacation don’t let that stop you from taking the time off. You can “get away” without even leaving the house. Shut off your technology, turn up the heat, replace the recliner with a beach chair and schedule a marathon of beach inspired movies. Don’t forget to make yourself a pitcher of your favorite tropical cocktail. Leaving your worries behind even for a day can prepare you to tackle anything that comes your way at work.
I started off the year with a request to my family. I asked that we choose a date, set in stone, for our family vacation. At the time the date we choose was rather random, but as the calendar began to fill up it was important that it was written in ink. This made it easier to say
“no, sorry I can’t that week I’ll be on vacation”
Equally important was putting in our vacation request at work six months early, since we all have careers and scheduling at the last minute can be problematic. Bonus: the anticipation of a vacation is good for the soul. We are all looking forward to our trip and even though some surprises have come up since the date was chosen, like the announcement of grand-baby number two, we’ve made a commitment and we’re sticking to it. Look for my vacation pics coming soon to the blog.