EVERYONE needs a vacation from time to time. It is healthy for us to take a break from the day-to-day grind. Breaks allow us to take a breather, to gain perspective, and often to come back more relaxed, freer, and more productive. Many employers do not fully understand the benefit vacations have on employee productivity.
Some employers are afraid to give employees time off as they worry about company output, deadlines, productivity, and ultimately, profit for investors. Again, the pressure on employers to maintain a high-functioning company will often push them to do something that is counter-productive….. push employees to give more time and take fewer breaks. The irony is that, while counterintuitive to some, it is a well-known reality that breaks = higher productivity. If an employer wants the best functioning organization, then promoting employees taking care of themselves should be a number one concern.
Why do we need breaks? Everyone needs a breather. A year and a half ago my father died. It was September. I found that, for months, I was physically at work, but not working to my fullest potential. I had such a stressful experience dealing with the reality of my father’s death that my work productivity was not at the level I would have liked it to be. When winter break rolled around in December I told my partner that I NEEDED a vacation. We went to Italy, it was wonderful – getting away and seeing a beautiful part of this world was exactly what I needed. It was what our whole family needed. The girls loved the sights (well, not as much as we would have liked – they were more excited to see the Trevi fountain because it was in the Lizzy McGuire Movie!) And I, I needed to be able to wander though a new place, experience new things, and leave all of the stress from the fall behind me. The adventure allowed me to walk away from all that had happened and experience life in the moment.
When I returned to work two weeks later I was in a MUCH healthier place. In fact, even though I had worked continually since September, I felt like I was mentally checking in for the first time in months. I felt like I was finally back in the game, I was able to focus and be with my employees, I was able to give my job my fullest attention. I had done nothing wrong in the previous months, there was no time for a break before December and I did technically do my job, meet my deadlines, etc. Every task I completed was just in the shadow of all that I had been through. The difference was my own attitude and devotion. When I returned in January I was refreshed and able to give of myself with the dedication and devotion I want to commit to my workplace.
A vacation does not have to be a fancy, expensive trip to Paris or Rome, a vacation can even occur in your own backyard. The importance is the change of pace and break from the demands your job and life are placing on you.
If you are finding that work is a chore, you need to ask yourself why. Do you need a change of workplace, work environment, or career, or do you just need a break in order to refresh, gain perspective, and return to your workplace with new energy and new eyes?
Do you have an employer that does not believe in breaks? Perhaps it is time to educate them about the correlation between proper vacations and employee productivity. It should also be noted that many studies have shown that employee productivity sharply decreases after 40 hours in a given week. Therefore, sometimes when employees work fewer hours they actually get more done. A refreshed employee will achieve more in 40 hours than an overworked exhausted employee will accomplish in 55.
Today, 340 days ’til 40, I am going to remind myself that it is okay to take vacations and breaks. I will take vacations guilt-free with the understanding that they increase my productivity. I will set an example as an employer and model the need to take time for myself – as I take time for myself, I give my employees permission to do the same.
Hmmmm – where will my next adventure be???
March 18, 2012 at 00:21
You need the break every now and again. Oh vacations.
March 18, 2012 at 11:50
Yes, Wherethedaytakesme, I agree completely!!! 🙂
March 18, 2012 at 00:27
Wow!!! We are so on the same page. I totally agree with because a similar experience happened to me twice in my life. After traveling around the world from 2004-2006. I came home to Saint George and fell in live with my city. I no longer have the desire to leave my city now, not even 30 miles out of town. I work 8-20 hours a week and fortunately this is the beginning a new trend. As more and more organizations mechanize their processes, it takes less people to run those organizations. Unfortunately a biproduct of this is less employment opportunities for the population and feet people will actually be able to buy these cheaper products that become available due to the efficiency and productivity expenses saved by mechanizing the process. So we are approaching a dilemma in our society. We need to approach the reality of our situation and realize that too many people are suffering for the benefit of the few to enjoy the fruits of our economy. This is totally obvious because of the masses of unemployment we are starting to see even in the 1st world countries. Not to mention the udder devestation that our economic system has created for the 3rd world countries populations. So ultimately we need to reorganize our priorities which I talk about in my blogs. Start focusing on a people centered society instead of a thing centered society that we are in right now. We must accept that the worlds resources actually belong to all the people on the planet, not to be owned by the organizations and change the system to redistribute the resources in a more equal way for the benefit of all the people in the world instead of the wealthy few as it stands today!!! 😉
March 18, 2012 at 11:53
Thank you, Jared, for your very thoughtful comments! You are so right, the digitalization of our work force is creating a lot of really hard ethical dilemmas for the world to contend with. I agree with you, we need to become a more people-centered society… this can be challenged when we are filled with self-centered people! How do we learn to become more community/ world minded???? Great thought-provoking comment! 🙂
March 18, 2012 at 02:27
You’re right! Vacation is necessary to recharge our bodies.
For your next adventure, how about going to Palawan and other tourist destinations in the Philippines?
March 18, 2012 at 11:54
Thanks for your comment, nilaeslit! What a great idea! I have ALWAYS wanted to visit the Philippines! I have friends there! 🙂
March 18, 2012 at 03:36
no matter what job we do we all need a break at times
March 18, 2012 at 11:54
March 18, 2012 at 05:55
I agree. Travel can result in more contentment with where you live. And you are right, day trips are great rejuvenators, too.
March 18, 2012 at 11:55
Yes! The key is for us to follow through and actually take the time to make the trips happen! 🙂
March 18, 2012 at 05:56
I agree! Everyone needs a vacation. A vacation doesn’t necessarily mean hopping on a plane and jetting off to a tropical island. It’s important to take time off even if you’re just gonna lounge around your apartment and read. Vacations (and breaks) keep us going at work. It’s our time to recharge.
March 18, 2012 at 11:56
Yes, definitely! I also agree, being in my pajamas reading in my apartment can also be a great vacation!!! 🙂
March 18, 2012 at 08:06
Yes! We desperately need a good break, but finances are a little stretched as I start my own consultancy. Fortunately we have access to a holiday house in a tiny town on the South Coast (of New South Wales, Australia), and we’re finding that just a weekend away here and there is making a huge difference to our “battery” charge.
Thanks for another great post.
March 18, 2012 at 11:58
Yes, finances can often get in the way of the really good breaks and dream vacations, can’t they? It seems like you have come up with a great option and how wonderful to have access to a holiday house so that you can get those breaks! I find that even a walk in a forest or on the beach can make a big difference if you cannot afford to get away. 🙂
March 18, 2012 at 09:49
very true indeed! the mind needs more rest than our body occassionally ..and such a break rejuvenates the complete mind and soul along with the body..
March 18, 2012 at 11:58
March 18, 2012 at 16:53
First time here, and I love the concept behind this blog! I also agree with your conclusions with regard to corporate productivity and breaks. I work out during my ‘lunch break’ every day; while I’m sure some of my co-workers are jealous or angry, I would argue that the latter 4 hours of my work day are far more productive than those who sat at their desk and worked through their lunch because I took a break and did something that energized me.
I’m excited to follow your adventure; keep up the great writing!
March 18, 2012 at 17:40
Thank you, Rabidmongoose, for your kind words and your comment! It sounds like you have experienced exactly what I have written about! If only more people could take those breaks – I bet that would improve many workplace environments!!!!! 🙂
March 18, 2012 at 16:57
You are right. To answer your question, we are right now doing something about it simply by talking about the issues and informing everyone we can about therm. Generating awareness and getting feedback from other like minded people. This is the beginning which will get the ideas in peoples heads, thinking about it and they, you and I will start getting thoughts for solutions now that we have addressed the issues. This may take some time but we are definitely on the right track. Keep up the good work, I’m very proud of you! Together, we will make a difference!!! 😉
March 18, 2012 at 17:38
Yes, Jared! Thanks for your encouragement. I agree that grassroots efforts, getting the message out person by person, will indeed make a difference!!! 🙂
March 18, 2012 at 18:23
March 18, 2012 at 18:25
March 18, 2012 at 18:29
You just delivered some vey wise advice…for someone so young!
March 18, 2012 at 18:30
Why, thank you!!! 🙂
March 18, 2012 at 18:47
Vacations are the best time to reflect, and not only recover and rejuvenate, but to successfully emanate that which is more authentically you. The “Change of Pace” can be the impetus for habit change as well. Love the insight
March 18, 2012 at 18:49
Thank you, Specialkphd! Indeed, the change of pace can be all we need as the first step towards creating healthier lifestyles for ourselves! 🙂
March 18, 2012 at 19:01
This could not be more true….I am a much better teacher after I have a little get away….It might be one night or a week, but its amazing how breathing some different air can recharge my batteries.
March 18, 2012 at 19:03
Yes, Davmer2303 – teachers REALLY need breaks – with all of the constant pressure and work that follows you home I am sure that even one day of escape makes a huge difference for you. And, of course, if it makes a difference for you, it helps our children!!! 🙂
You Were Born To Succeed
March 18, 2012 at 21:52
It seems we all agree. We need breaks, whether they are 1 or 2 minutes or a couple of weeks. I like breaks! Thanks for the “like” on my blog.
March 18, 2012 at 22:50
Thanks, Youwereborntosucceed! Yes we all DO need breaks!!! 🙂
March 18, 2012 at 23:37
Thanks for that .. and yes I need one too .. funny similar story, my dad died last year and I just started blogging too. Maybe the answer to all our problems lies somewhere in the worldwideweb. And have you ever been to Ireland? its beautiful here, if not hot.
March 19, 2012 at 07:27
Thanks, Jensine, for your comment. Yes, perhaps all the answers to life and beyone are on the internet! 🙂 I have never been to Ireland, but it is high on the list of places I want to visit!!!!!
March 19, 2012 at 07:32
Well if you do before you’re forty let me know and we can have a chat over a Guinness :-). Just starting out this blog malarkey and not sure it will amount to much … but thanks so much for liking my post, gave me a boost
March 19, 2012 at 07:44
You are welcome and I will certainly let you know if I head to Ireland!!! 🙂
March 19, 2012 at 09:46
Wow that was odd. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say excellent blog!
March 19, 2012 at 22:25
Thank you so much! 🙂
March 19, 2012 at 11:21
Vacation ?? The whole thing about changing scenery doing something that we don’t do every day, every month – to let others take care of us. Haven’t been working for 3 years now and I still go on vacation. It’s the excitement and the adventure that is the vacation. At least for me. Thanks for your “liking” !!! Always exciting when somebody new finds … my blog.
March 19, 2012 at 11:25
Thank you, Viveka, for your comment. Yes, you are correct, whether we work or not we can often need a change of scenery – for adventure sake and to gain new perspective.
I hope you will visit again! 🙂
March 19, 2012 at 18:44
A great reminder, thank you! I love the way new settings open up your mind to new things. ‘Just being’ with your family, without the grind of daily life is another great blessing. I love paging through travel books and dreaming about adventures:)
March 19, 2012 at 22:12
Yes, I also love paging through travel books – sometimes just the dreaming of adventure is enough to replenish my soul! 🙂
March 20, 2012 at 08:45
I think, my employees take more breaks or vacations more than I do. I need to do a better job as an employer to take a vacation and take care of my self too. Thank you for a great post!
March 20, 2012 at 09:27
Ahh, me too! We need to learn to practice what we preach and set a better example!!!! 🙂
J M Naszady
March 24, 2012 at 22:23
My husband and I have trouble giving ourselves permission to “take a break” from our daily duties and responsibilities. Maybe we are control freaks. But almost four years ago, we saw an opportunity to “take off” and we finally took it! It was the vacation of a lifetime for us, although we both hope to take a similar trip again.
We drove across the US from coast to coast, just the two of us, and even traveled along both the east and west coasts. We mostly camped, stayed with friends and family to get re-connected, and “chilled.” Not being in the habit of doing this, it took a while to get into the proper frame of mind. There were negotioations. But I have never been so relaxed! Looking back, this time warp helped us to get through the next few years of struggles. We are so glad that we made that decision.
March 24, 2012 at 22:31
Thank you, J M, for sharing this experience from your personal life. This is exactly what I hope people will come to understand – the immense benefits that come from allowing themselves to take these breaks. It sounds like your trip was amazing, in fact, it is one I dream of doing myself one day! By giving yourself permission to take the trip it sounds like you and your husband gained so very much. Thank you again for bringing a great example to this issue! 🙂
J M Naszady
March 25, 2012 at 00:19
Glad to contribute to the conversation!
March 26, 2012 at 21:11
“velvet soft, lingering wind
golden sunshine, caressing one’s skin
the elusive tan, suntan cream
le vacation, le pleasant dream”
– lara rose
….inspired by your article, great stuff here!!!
March 26, 2012 at 21:39
Thanks so much, what a pleasure and a privilege! 🙂