Make Time for Vacation, By Laura Stack, MBA, CSP

laura-stack4Ready for some fun? Time to take a vacation? For some Americans, that might be difficult. The World Tourism Organization lists Americans as having the least vacation time in the industrialized world.

Because despite the small number of vacation days per year, one in six employees (roughly 18%) is so overworked that she or he is unable to use up annual vacation time, according to a 2001 Oxford Health Plans survey reported in USA Today. Do you have surplus vacation time that you haven’t been able to use up because you’re so busy?

In our society today, being constantly available to your customers (who might well be your co-workers) has become the battle cry. But a study conducted by the New York-based nonprofit Families and Work Institute suggests that many U.S. workers may be working too hard, leading to more mistakes on the job, neglected personal relationships and higher health-care costs.

The feeling of being overworked is not solely because of the number of hours spent working. When you feel pressured and pushed, when you feel not respected, when you feel tension at work, or when you feel the work that you do isn’t of real value, that leads to overwork.

Here are some tips on How to Go on Vacation:

• Leave for two weeks. If you only go for one week, your co-workers and staff will hold things for you “until you get back.” If you’re gone for two weeks, it’s more likely others will do it themselves since it can’t wait that long.

• Enjoy yourself. Go ahead and eat those desserts you would typically avoid. Spend money on things you wouldn’t normally buy. Stay out later and sleep in later than you normally would. Take the dinner boat cruise and the water-skiing lessons. Buy souvenirs, clothing, and treasures of the areas. Look at those expenditures as investments in your emotional health.

• Always have the next trip planned. Coming back from vacation is depressing. Try to allow for it with an extra day before you go back to work, because you might have the blues. I know when John and I return from our annual Hawaiian excursions, I’m always commenting, “This time last week I was on the beach.” Then plan another trip. Put a date on the calendar, because if you don’t, it won’t happen. Buy plane tickets and schedule around it. Start planning and getting excited.

When my three-year-old James is fussy, I tell him, “You’re grouchy. It’s time for you to take a nap!” Similarly, you might need to lovingly tell a colleague or a friend it’s time to take a break. If your significant other tells you to take a vacation, take it seriously and don’t shoot the messenger. Your friends and family may have a point, and your productivity and happiness depends on you listening.

© 2009 Laura Stack. Laura Stack is a personal productivity expert, author, and professional speaker who helps busy workers Leave the Office Earlier® with Maximum Results in Minimum Time®. She is the president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc., a time management training firm specializing in productivity improvement in high-stress organizations. Since 1992, Laura has presented keynotes and seminars on improving output, lowering stress, and saving time in today’s workplaces. She is the bestselling author of three works published by Broadway Books: The Exhaustion Cure (2008), Find More Time (2006) and Leave the Office Earlier (2004). Laura is a spokesperson for Microsoft, 3M, and Day-Timers®, Inc and has been featured on the CBS Early Show, CNN, and the New York Times. Her clients include Cisco Systems, Sunoco, KPMG, Nationwide, and 3M. To have Laura speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401. Visit www.TheProductivityPro.com to sign up for her free monthly productivity newsletter.

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