Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Necessity and Benefits of a Vacation

I am just back from a little over two weeks off and I feel great, energized, rested and very content. i realize, once again, how important vacations are.  Over the years I have posted many times about how important taking a block of time off is. Vacations should be serious business, so I thought I would repeat some of the points from my other posts.

Vacations are essential, both for your self and your employer and your employees.

First, studies show that 40% of all workers fail to take time off.  They are foolish. 

Many people defend their actions by saying either a) they are indispensable, b) they are in a service business and it would be wrong to take time off, c) they are just too busy and are afraid that work will pile up or d) their management might not be happy.  A few even admit that they are afraid that their management will discover that they are not essential. All these reasons are just plain wrong.

No one in indispensable.  If anyone reading this post believes that their business cannot operate without them, they are either a poor managers, poorly staffed or are disorganized.  Clients take time off and so should their suppliers.  Period.  Everyone needs to rest and refresh. No one is too busy to take time off; there is always another presentation, another meeting, another crisis.  That is what business is about.  And if you work for a company where they discourage time off, go somewhere where they place a real value on their people. And anyone who is so insecure that they are afraid that it will be discovered that they are unessential needs to see a good shrink. Seriously.

The benefits of a vacation have been proven time and again by many management consultants and much research.  The interesting thing is that by unplugging for a week or more (without thinking too much about business during that time) – you will come back with better ideas and much more perspective both on your job and on life. This happens to me every time I take time off.

Every responsible senior executive checks emails and checks voice mail while away (I am always a little leery of any executive who does not check in while away). I try to check emails and phone messages only once a day.  And you know what I discovered? In actuality, very few communications are essential or critical.  If you set aside a time every day to check in, it should not interfere with your time away. As a recruiter, I have negotiated and made placements from around the world – Paris, Istanbul, The Galapagos, among many, the time spent doing this does not interfere at all with the quality of my time off. It actually can enhance it. 

While cruising where Wi-Fi can be spotty, one can always rent a satellite phone if communication is essential, but I discovered that most of it can wait until one is in port in a day or two. (Upon return, I spend time going through emails and always discover that I was okay skipping them for a week.) I once rented a satellite phone for the Galapagos and Machu Picchu and discovered that by then end of the trip I was relaxed enough to skip days of calling in.  I did negotiate a placement by phone while on the Galapagos ship which took very little away from me. (Of course, making a placement while away is always exhilarating.)

One thing I have discovered and rediscovered – when I make a “to do” list before going away, when I return, most of it is still very much where I left it. That is why anyone who is afraid to take a vacation because of too much work is foolish.

If you are afraid to schedule a vacation because of impending meetings or developments, those things always exist and, if you are important enough, they can be put off until your return. Few clients will not accommodate a reasonable postponement. Just don’t be afraid to ask, especially if your vacation has long ago been scheduled and paid for.


  1. Very good points Paul. From what I've read, people in most parts of the world seem to manage to take their vacation time and overall have a better sense of balance in their lives.

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