I’m supposed to be on vacation. But, I still feel like I’m working. I’ve had meetings. I’ve taken a few phone calls. I’ve returned a couple of emails. It hardly seems as though I’ve been off because, for me, a vacation means I’m doing NOTHING! No meetings. No phone calls. No emails. No texts. No agenda. No schedule. No alarm clock. None! Nothing! Nada! Vacations allow me to rest and resurrect a few brain cells. They allow me to slow down and regroup like how a boxer goes to his or her corner in between rounds so they can come out in the next round swinging. Instead of being ready to do Muhammad Ali’s rope-a-dope I feel more like a dope on a rope.
Unused vacation days are higher than they were 40 years ago. According to CNBC, U.S. workers are only using 77% of their paid time off. Some employees are allowed to bank or roll over their vacation days into the next year. Yet, there are an average 1.6 days completely forfeited.
Take time off and encourage your people to do the same. One report shows that vacations have numerous benefits to include slowing down employee turnover and increasing worker productivity.
How we take vacations may vary. The ideal vacation for some may need to be adventurous and filled with all sorts of activities to prevent boredom. On the other hand, there are people like me who need to do as little as possible in order to relax. Regardless of the preference, I believe there are three keys for how every leader should take vacations.
1. Structure and staff your organization so you can disconnect
Structure your organization with decision makers at various levels and then fill positions with smart, decisive people who can make the tough calls while you’re away.
2. Disconnect to reconnect
While you’re away, be away. Disconnect. Don’t harass your people with phone calls, emails, and text messages. Disconnect from the grind and recharge your batteries. Disconnect so you can reconnect with things leaders tend to neglect—things that are more important.
- Reconnect with your purpose
Its easy to get lost in your day-to-day grind and forget why you started doing it all in the first place. A vacation is a great opportunity to ask, “Why am I doing all of this?”
- Reconnect with loved ones
Vacations allow time to reconnect with people who may feel as though we never have time for them. Be fully present with them. Focus on them and create memories that will last a lifetime.
- Reconnect with nature
3. Do what works for you and others
Whether you like lots of things to do while you’re on vacation or hardly anything at all, do what works for you and the people in your life. You may want to get away or simply stay home for a few days. Regardless, take time off regularly and provide the people at your work, home, and in your community a recharged, refocused you. I’m sure everyone will be the better for it.