We have a tendency, in our culture, to value working all the time. There’s a bit of pride in being able to “complain” of a 50 or 60 hour workweek. On top of that, many employers seem to demand that workers come in earlier and stay later, and there is a culture of shame (in some cases) aimed at those who actually take their vacation days.
But is all this work good for you? Could it be time to take a vacation?
How Taking Time Off Can Help Your Career
Believe it or not, taking time off can actually help your career. A Rutgers University study indicates that working between six and six and a half hours a day makes workers more productive than those working 10 to 12 hours a day. Those long work hours aren’t helping you get more done.
But it’s not just the length of your work day. Many people feel much better after a vacation. They are more likely to be energized and ready to work. I know that sometimes I need a break. And when I take one (truly unplugging and not trying to do work while I’m vacationing), I am much more productive when I get back.
Sometimes you need to get away. And when you come back well-rested, with your creative juices flowing again, it can help you boost your career, since you will have good ideas to share, and be able to take your productivity up a notch. Adding a little relaxation to your life can boost your productivity in the long term.
Improve Your Quality of Life
Time off can also improve your quality of life. Studies have found that those taking vacations live longer — and are healthier — than those who don’t use their vacation days. Additionally, the Journal of Occupational Health reported that those who vacation regularly enjoy a better mood and feel happier about their lives.
Vacationing can also help you improve your personal relationships. Consider: If you are happier in general, you are going to get along better with your loved ones. Plus, vacations allow you the chance to create lasting memories with your family. If you are always working, it’s hard to connect with your loved ones. A little time off can provide you with a way to spend time with those you love most, and make sure that you build solid relationships.
Leave the Work at Home
Unfortunately, not only do many Americans take less time off than their international counterparts, but when they do leave, they often take their work with them. I’ve been guilty of this. I often check email while I’m supposed to be relaxing. Even when I’m camping, I sometimes sneak off to do a quick email check. A working vacation isn’t always the best thing, though. If you don’t give yourself permission to relax and leave some of the work alone, there’s not much point in getting away.
When you go on vacation, do your best to leave as much of your work behind as you can. It makes more sense to really enjoy yourself and take a true break than it does to mar your good vacation with a lot of work. If you have to check in while you are on vacation, choose specific times to do so. Don’t be checking in all day. Do it first thing in the morning, and do it after you’re done for the day, but make sure you have time for fun and relaxation in between.
What do you think? Could a real vacation help you feel better about your life and make you more productive? Do you unplug when you go on vacation?
Photo credit: Jose Maria Cuellar