Americans left a collective 658 million vacation days unused, according to a Project: Time Off survey
. Chances are good that even if you took a day off, you didn’t completely disengage. The same technology that gives us the flexibility to work from anywhere, makes it hard to disconnect and not
work from anywhere. With our jam-packed to-do lists and frenetic deadlines, we too often buy into the idea that we need this constant finger on the pulse of our work.
Put down the phone. Close the app or window showing your email inbox. Push aside the report and the list of tasks demanding your attention. You need a day off. Your productivity and on-the-job effectiveness are suffering and the only way to fix it is to embrace a little down time.
You’ll be healthier for it.
From the study reporting that women who don’t take vacation have a 50% higher risk of having a heart attack (30% higher risk for men) to the studies that credit vacation with warding off depression, there’s one clear trend: Downtime is good for your health.
You’ll look at things with a fresh eye.
We’ve all been there: trying to solve a challenge and hitting a dead end no matter how many times you turn the facts over in your mind. Taking a break – whether it’s a week off at the beach or just an hour at the gym – can reset the cycle. Studies have shown that even thinking about travel can boost our creativity. Those benefits multiply when we follow through and take the trip. An evening or weekend without checking office email can benefit us, too.
You’ll boost your productivity.
For some of us, the dread of what awaits when we return from vacation is what keeps us from taking one. We anticipate the pile of work that’s built up and we decide we’re better off not taking the time in the first place. Downtime, however, invigorates and energizes. You may have more emails than you can shake a stick at, but you’ll also have the energy to deal with them. If productivity is waning, more hours in the work day aren’t required. A break is.
As a leader, delegation is part of the job, and yet it’s sometimes a part of the job we struggle with. Time off forces us to hand off some tasks. And when we return, we recognize that the world kept turning even though we weren’t there to spin it. Taking a break will help you be a better leader who is comfortable cultivating talent in others.
According to the same Project: Time Off
survey, 80% of employees said they’d take the allotted vacation days if they felt their boss supported it. As a leader, taking a break yourself sets an example for the rest of staff. And, like you, when they return to work after vacation, they’ll be happier, energized and more creative. Win-win!
When was the last time you closed the office door and left the corporate to-do list on the desk? If you can’t remember a time when you weren’t juggling texts, brainstorming, and yoga class, now is the time. Block in ‘me-time’ and really take it. Start with an hour here or there to focus on something you enjoy and work in bigger blocks of full days or a week to reconnect, refresh, and refocus.