Why You Should Take More Vacation Time

By Robert Half on June 27, 2014 at 7:00am

Feel like vacations are never long enough? Maybe it's because you're not taking enough time off. Read on to avoid summer vacation remorse. 

Planning some vacation time during the summer or holidays? Here's something you might want to keep in mind: In a new  OfficeTeam survey, one-third of senior managers said taking too little time off was the biggest mistake they made with their last vacation. Not being able to get their mind off work came in second (25 percent), followed by checking in with the office too much (22 percent). 

Why is it so hard for workers to take extended breaks from the office -- and enjoy their time away? I'm pretty good about taking my share of longer vacations and totally disconnecting from work when I'm out, but I can see how this can be difficult for many professionals. 

Reasons for Taking Too Little Time Off

First, there's the concern about all that work and how it's going to get done. Given heavy workloads, many employees fear that taking a long vacation is going to put them really far behind. And no one wants to look like they're not a team player or a slacker when their projects get pushed onto colleagues.   

In a separate survey by our company, 39 percent of workers said they don’t use all the paid vacation time they're given. The reasons: 38 percent are saving days in case they need them later, while 30 percent fear falling behind at work.

There may also be other personal reasons for not taking extended vacations, like finances or just not having enough time off available. Whatever the reason, it's important to keep in mind that enjoying regular breaks away from work allows you to recharge and regain motivation for your job.  

Put Down the Phone

While on vacation, technology has made it easier for workers to check in with the office from just about anywhere -- which can be both a blessing and a curse. But ideally, you need to completely disconnect from work to get the full benefits of a break. If you can, leave your work laptop and smartphone at home to resist the urge of getting down to business. If you really must check in, establish "office hours" so colleagues know when you're available. 

Here are some other tips for making the most of your vacations:

  • Get on the calendar. Discuss your vacation schedule with your boss early. This increases the chances of having your request approved and allows your supervisor to manage projects accordingly. It's never too early to start planning, especially for popular seasons like the summer or holidays
  • Find a backup. Determine who can handle your tasks while you're away. Make sure to provide your stand-in with the information needed to perform your duties. Managers may consider bringing in temporary professionals to keep things on track when employees take a vacation.
  • Let others know. Tell key contacts when you'll be out and who can help them in your absence. Include your point person's contact info on your voice mail and email notices.
  • Have a re-entry plan. On your first day back, arrive at work a little early or clear your morning schedule so you can check messages and refresh your memory on assignments. You may even choose to get a head start on checking email and voice mail from home the day before returning to the office so you aren't swamped.  

Check out the infographic (or slideshow version) below for a roundup of interesting findings about vacation time.

What do you do before and during vacations to maximize your time away? Give us your tips in the comments section below!

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