The Case Of The
This is the time for daydreaming about your annual vacation. Sounds enticing.
But when it comes to actually taking time off, a growing number of us become
downright ambivalent. ('Paranoid' may be more accurate.) Concerns about job
security creep in. If the boss can get along without me for two weeks will he
decide Išm not needed? What will happen to my projects when I am gone? Will my
colleagues undermine me? And there are large numbers of us who are addicted to
work. They'd rather work than be on vacation.
The result is that almost one-third of us don't take all the vacation days we
have earned, according to Expedia.com, the online travel agency. Some 14 percent
do not take any vacation time at all.
In addition, therešs an army of men and women who are so hooked on their work
that they can't leave it behind. When they are supposed to be on vacation they
are not really on vacation. They stay connected to their work via the umbilical
cord of technology. Some 32 percent check their voice mail or e-mail every day
away from the job. It is the rare bird indeed who can be away from the office
for two weeks without checking in two or three times "just to see how things are
going." Many employers are enablers of this kind of behavior as they strive to
get more work for the same money.
Instead of feeling refreshed by time away from work, hordes of us dread
coming back. We know the e-mails have piled up, the to-do list has grown and
there is the general catching up. There may have been shifts in the power
A Sobering Thought
This sort of commitment to the job may be necessary in some cases, but
there's no escaping that it is often counterproductive. Efficiency drops off and
workers' health is put at risk during long periods of unbroken work.
The Framington Heart Study shows that women who took two of more vacations a
year had a 50 percent lower chance of a heart attack than their counterparts who
didn't take time off. In the case of men, annual vacations reduce the odds by
Your Vacation Guide
The facts are clear. Time away from the job will improve your efficiency and
help accelerate your career. In the end, personal down time will benefit your
employer as well. Hopefully, you have the courage and wisdom to act on this
You can help assure that your vacation times serve their best purpose by
establishing seven conditions, advised Ramon Greenwood, senior career counselor
1. Come to grips with the fact that you are not indispensable. Nobody
is. If it only takes a few days off the job to demonstrate that you are
dispensable, then you probably are. If so, better to find out now and deal with
2. Reject the macho idea that long hours with your nose to the grindstone
demonstrate strength and commitment. What you produce at the end of the day
is what counts. The dumbest ox needs time out of the yoke.
3. Plan your next vacation in advance. Hold to the date. If your
employer forces you to cancel your vacation make sure there is a good reason.
Absent a reason, consider whether you are working in an environment that will
nurture your growth.
4. Establish a plan to cover your responsibilities. Do work in
advance. Delegate. Advise those with whom you work of your plans and what you
expect to happen while you are away.
5. Leave a contact point where you can be reached with a "gatekeeper" who
will respect your time. Don't check in with the office. They'll call you if
you are needed. Don't panic if they don't contact you. Take satisfaction that
your vacation plan is working.
6. Flush work out of your mind. Put the components of your life in
perspective. Recharge your batteries. Read things totally unrelated to your
work. Get plenty of rest.
7. Be prepared to double your efforts when you return from vacation to
catch up and go ahead with your work.
It's well to remember that there is no record of anyone wishing on their
deathbed that they had spent more time at work.
Ramon Greenwood is Senior Career Counselor for
www.CommonSenseAtWork.com. He is
a former Senior Vice President at American Express, a published author and
syndicated columnist, a professional director and an entrepreneur.