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Taking Vacation Time You Deserve

As we head into summer, it seems fitting to have a few words of discussion about vacation time.  Much advice exists on disconnecting from work and returning to the office relaxed and revitalized, but which approach is right for you?

According to Scott Edinger, founder of the Edinger Consulting Group “You’ll actually get worse at your job if you don’t have intervals of rest amid the stress … It’s like working one muscle too hard. If you neglect to rest that muscle, it begins to fatigue and will ultimately weaken.”  Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, referring to the way our days are hyper-stimulated by checking emails, social media and the likes, notes “we’ve lost even the micro-moments during the day that give our brains a rest … Our brains never have the bandwidth to actually recharge or rejuvenate.” 

Below are some simple tips for you to make the most of vacation time:

Practice taking mental vacations to help you maximize your actual vacation time.  Learn to “shut-down” for brief periods during the workday.  Let a lunch break be a true break – not an eat-your-sandwich-while-checking-emails break.  Attempt to find moments of silence.  For example, turn the radio off for a spell while you are driving.  Power down your cell phone for ten minutes.  Let your brain realize that moments of quiet-time won’t automatically translate into lower productivity – or better yet, may help you to recharge and become more efficient.

Leave projects behind.  Resist the temptation to bring even a small amount of work with you.  You may be thinking that working on a spreadsheet while on the plane or reading a report while lounging on the beach is a harmless (or even efficient) use of your time but doing so will rob you of the full effect of an actual vacation.  According to Anchor, “The productivity of a vacation is you’re trying to lower your stress, raise your levels of happiness, and create novelty for the brain”. 

Empower your team and let them know what responsibilities you want them to shoulder while you are gone.  A secondary advantage is that you will be signaling to them that you trust them and will allow them to feel they are being provided room to spread their own wings. 

If you are a solopreneur, recognize, as hard as it may be, that the business won’t fall apart just because you are gone for a week.  If you honestly think it would suffer serious damage, then you absolutely need to hire someone and train them.  What would you do if you actually needed to be in the hospital for a week?

Manage your re-entry.  Just as you carefully prepare colleagues and employees for your departure, take a moment to plan for your return to work. A rushed re-entry completely burns away the good effects of the vacation. Resist the pressure to dive right back into the fray. “Very few of us just show up and we’re at full speed,” Edinger says. “The key for Monday morning is not to schedule any meetings.” That gives you a few hours in relative peace to get caught up on emails and other work demands. And whatever you do, try not to work late that first day back. “It’s just a bit of a jolt to the system. A couple of late nights at the office that first week, and it is easy to see why, when Wednesday afternoon rolls around, people often say their just-finished vacation feels like a distant memory.”

These few tips should help you better “vacation” during your vacation and come back revitalized.  This is a short list – try some vacation preparation by reading a few of the many suggestions in articles and blog posts on the internet.  Note the recurring themes and adopt suggestions that speak to you.  Most of all, see your vacation as a work requirement, go forth and enjoy, and come back recharged to take on your tasks with renewed vigor, mental clarity, and stories to share with your friends and associates.


Eric S. Degen, CPA Titan Accountancy, LLC

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