I was sitting in my hotel room in the Dominican Republic, looking out at the beautiful view of the resort’s swimming pools and the ocean in the distance, and I was working.
I was at the resort for my daughter’s senior trip. Granted, she was off with dozens of her friends, so I wasn’t really planning to spend the day with her, but that didn’t mean I should be in my room checking email.
I bet you’ve caught yourself working when you’re supposed to be taking time off too. It happens to the best of us. I’m not sure if we work because it makes us feel productive, we feel obligated to or just out of habit, but the message we’re sending to ourselves is pretty clear. We’re telling ourselves that we don’t deserve to take a break, that taking time off is wrong.
More than half of Americans do not take all of the vacation days their employers provide them in a given year, according to the U.S. Travel Association. When we do take vacations, more than 40% of us work while we’re away from the office. These statistics are part of what adds up to us working more and taking less time off than people anywhere else in the world.
I’m not sure why we don’t think we deserve a break or that we can take one, but it needs to stop. It’s the perfect time of year for a little downtime. Need some justification? Take a look at these 5 Important Reasons to Take Time Off.
1. Making time for bonding
We’ve all heard the saying that all work and no play makes Sally a very boring girl. Your friends and family want to spend time with you when you’re focused on them and relaxing, not working. Here’s the bottom line. What matters to you more? Your family and friends or work? Let your actions reflect your feelings.
2. Recharging your mind and body
People who are overworked are more overwhelmed, less productive, more prone to making mistakes, and more stressed. Taking time off recharges your brain, allowing you to be more focused and productive when you return to work. Relaxation also boosts your immune system.
3. Empowering others
We’ve all had that feeling of working more before or after a vacation. It’s like you need the vacation after you’ve spent so many hours prepping to leave or trying to catch up when you return to work. But, here’s the thing, work will happen without you present. Taking time off empowers others on your team to make decisions and complete tasks. It also sends a message to them that it’s ok for them to take time off too.
4. Sparking creativity
Creative ideas are everywhere. It’s not really working if you’re lounging in a beach chair, looking out over the ocean and you have an epiphany about how to solve a nagging work problem. Creative thinking occurs when we allow ourselves to relax.
5. Inspiring appreciation
I’ve traveled out of the country for work for about a month at a time for at least a decade of my marriage. I can absolutely attest to the cliche that absence makes the heart grow fonder. My husband and I always appreciate each other more after we’ve been apart. The same is true for your team. Taking time off allows your team to recognize and value your role in the organization.
It seems contradictory that taking time away from work actually makes you a better employee, but it does. It also makes you a mentally and physically healthier person. In my personal experience, taking time to rest, recharge and explore the world or do something new, also makes you happier. You have the time off and the right to enjoy it. I hope this post is all of the justification you need.