Imagine yourself sitting at the end of the dock. The sun warming your back. The clear blue water lapping at your toes.
And then your cell phone chirps , beeps, vibrates at you. A text, email, instant chat comes through. Work strikes again.
Why are we so spectacularly bad at completely shutting down, unplugging?
You’ve probably heard various facts about the staggering number of vacation days we North Americans leave untaken, right. And how in the UK, four weeks is the standard, required by law number of vacation days allotted to individuals. In the U.S.? There is no law, in any state that requires an employer to provide paid vacation to its employees.
We appear to have some misguided idea that taking an actual vacation is an indication that we are somehow not dedicated or worse – replaceable. If the system can get along without us for two weeks, then we are not needed.
Let’s look at it from a different perspective, shall we?
What kind of a message are you sending to your team, never mind to your family, if you do not actually take your full vacation days? A bad one. You’re telling them that work is more important than health and well-being.
You want your team to take their vacations, right? You want them to take that well deserved time and enjoy themselves fully and come back refreshed, rejuvenated, batteries recharged and raring to go, right? You know they’ll come back from holidays more productive and even more creative than before.
And your family? You want them to know they are important to you and that you want to spend time with them whole-heartedly. Your kids need to know that you’ve got some balance going on in life. You work hard , but know when to take a break, too. Balance.
If you want them to know it’s a good thing, the right thing, you’re going to have to do.
How? Easy… well, maybe not easy, but doable.
First, “Book it, Danno.” Book the flights, rent the cottage, make a reservation for dinner at that charming restaurant you discovered last time. Book whatever you can. Nothing like a little down-time commitment to steel you against the ravages of workaholism.
Secondary benefit? It’ll give you a deadline. And you know the benefits having a deadline can have on your productivity, right?
Then, go through your list of to-dos and highlight the ones that will be the most beneficial if completed and get them done. Conversely, strike off the things that are of low or limited importance. Delegate or set them aside to do later.
If absolutely necessary, it’s okay to connect with the team, but set boundaries. Confine the connection to a specific time and day – Wednesday morning at 8:30 for 30 minutes. Not before, not after and definitely not anytime.
Now go sit on that dock at the edge of the bay. I bet you’ll find a smile or two, too.
Did you take a vacation this summer? Have one planned? What’s the best vacation you’ve ever had? Would you share your story in the comments below? We’d love to hear.