Have you ever had one of those days when all you could think was, "Gosh, do I need a vacation."
Of course you have -- because all work and no play isn't good for anyone. A vacation doesn't have to be two weeks on a tropical island, or even a long weekend at the beach. A vacation just means taking a break from your everyday activities. A change of pace. It doesn't matter where.
Everyone needs a vacation to rejuvenate mentally and physically. But did you also know that you can help boost our economy by taking some days off? Call it your personal stimulus package.
An analysis by Oxford Economics for the U.S. Travel Association found that more than 40 percent of U.S. workers don't take their full allotment of paid time off (PTO) during the year, representing an average of 3.2 unused vacation days per worker in 2013 -- a total of 429 million workdays!
Aside from the risk of exhaustion and career burnout, unused vacation days have a negative impact on the U.S. economy as a whole. The study estimated that if employees took full advantage of their PTO days, the economy would enjoy the benefits of more than $160 billion in sales and $21 billion in tax revenues, as well as supporting 21 million jobs in areas like retail, transportation and manufacturing. Workers taking just a single additional day off would boost spending by $73 billion.
So go ahead and take some vacation. It's your patriotic duty.
And please, don't try the old excuse that you can't take time off because your esteemed presence is required at all times. No one is indispensable. No one. The place may not function as smoothly without you, but chances are the doors won't close, and you won't lose all your customers.
My friend, the late Zig Ziglar, had an interesting take on productivity and vacations: "Isn't it amazing how much stuff we get done the day before vacation?" So let that be your motivation: getting lots of work done in anticipation of being out of the office.
Summer is traditionally a great time for a vacation. Have you planned some time off yet?
You can detach from the workplace without worry and enjoy the break you deserve if you follow these simple steps before you leave:
-- Notify co-workers and clients. Let bosses, customers and colleagues know you'll be on vacation at least a week -- if not sooner -- before you take off. Let people know how long you'll be out of the office, when you'll be returning and who they should contact in the meantime. Set an auto-reply on your email, and leave the same information on your voice mail.
-- Prepare your co-workers. Talk to the people who will handle questions or problems while you're away. Help them troubleshoot by providing pertinent information like the status of current projects, names of possible callers and reasons they might call.
-- Straighten up. There's nothing as unmotivating as coming back from a great vacation to a workspace in complete disarray. Make the transition easier by cleaning up before you leave.
-- Get your mind in gear. If you are not accustomed to taking time off, you may have forgotten how to disconnect. It typically takes two to three days to get into vacation mode. A friend usually downloads a photo of his destination for his screensaver a couple weeks before vacation. It reminds him to enjoy the rewards for his hard work.
-- Turn off your electronics and explain that you will be available for no more than 15 minutes a day unless the place is on fire. Our smartphone world has created an army of work zombies. The temptation to work is too great when you can just tap your phone. Don't let technology ruin your break ... or your life.
-- Trust the people you work with to carry on. You might be pleasantly surprised at what gets accomplished in your absence.
And if getting away from the office is absolutely impossible, try what the Business School of Happiness calls "The One Minute Vacation." When time and money prevent taking a physical vacation, "The same relaxing benefits of taking a vacation can be found in minutes of simple meditation interspersed throughout the day. In fact, three one-minute sessions of deep breathing taken at pre-set intervals throughout the day may indeed deliver the deep sense of peacefulness that might have seemed elusive."
Mackay's Moral: Vacations aren't luxuries, they're necessities.