Americans are terrible at slowing down! According to a recent survey released by the U.S. Travel Association 54 percent of employees ended 2016 with unused time off.1 That is over 662 million vacation days gone!1
Both of these results are in spite of 82 percent of managers agreeing that vacation improves on health and well-being, boosts morale (82 percent) and helps to alleviate the problems associated with burnout (81 percent).1 There are clear benefits to taking time off to recharge, refocus and reconnect with the people and activities you love most.
When you’re ready to take advantage of your paid time off, make sure you use it wisely! In order to make sure you get the most out of your vacation time, you should consider these four tips.
1. Let Your Intentions Be Known
Even though both leaders and employees recognize the importance of vacation time, 66 percent of employees report their company says nothing, sends mixed messages or discourages their use of it.1
If you’re worried or unsure about whether it’s OK for you to set aside work for a while, have an open and honest discussion with your supervisor. This will allow you to determine a time that works well for you and your company, and remove some of the stigma that you might feel about taking time off. Remember, your boss is human too and recognizes the need for a break. Acknowledging the needs of your boss and the company as well shows you are a team player and looking out for all affected by taking time off.
2. Have Someone Cover For You
If you fear that you will be missing important work — or that there will be work that only you can do — train your replacement so you know they’ll be capable of doing the work. Trusting your replacement will also allow you to have the peace of mind that they will contact you if (absolutely) necessary to make sure the work is completed in a manner that satisfies everyone.
Make sure your daily work routine is outlined and available, whether it be a hard copy or available through internal resources. This is great to have on hand not only for planned time off, but also for when you have to take unplanned time off for family emergencies or illnesses. Again, this is a great way to demonstrate to your boss that you are capable of taking time off without the company or your colleagues suffering at all. Leaving others with a plan while you’re out will put your mind at ease and help you transition back into your responsibilities when you return to work.
3. Unplug From Work
A recent study showed that 68 percent of Americans check their personal and work email at least once per day while on vacation.2 Who is benefitting? Certainly not the person taking the vacation. Even though unplugging from work is a no brainer, it seems some people can’t get away and aren’t reaping the full benefits of the time off. Your paid time off is just for that — time away from work! By definition, vacation is time spent away from home or work, most commonly in an alternative location. If you bring your work with you, what sort of vacation are you really taking? You’ll enjoy your vacation far more if you choose to abstain from checking your email. In fact, 65 percent of people who don’t check their email say that their vacation is far more enjoyable!
The truth is that checking your email is counterproductive to your ability to fully recharge and immerseyourself in your retreat. Deciding how much work-related tech consumption you should engage in is probably best done by understanding that your paid time off should be embraced as an opportunity for you to fully relax and enjoy yourself. It is your responsibility to limit your exposure to the things that could impede that!
4. Plan Around Holidays
If you have a limited amount of vacation days, make the most of them by stacking them onto weekends or three-day holiday weekends. You’ll really be able to shut off from work on a holiday weekend because everyone will be taking a similar window of time off.
Unfortunately, there is a financial drawback: many people employ this same strategy and those in the travel industry capitalize on it. Plan as far in advance as you can to save on hotels, cars and more. Check Groupon for fun and interesting activities to do at a fraction of the cost.
1Zillman, C. (May 23, 2017). Americans are still terrible at taking vacations. Retrieved August 31, 2017, from http://fortune.com/2017/05/23/vacation-time-americans-unused/
2Vozza, S. (July 07, 2016). How to stop checking email on vacation. Retrieved August 31, 2017, from https://www.fastcompany.com/3061451/how-to-stop-checking-email-on-vacation