Don't Be Afraid to Take a Vacation – Your Job May Depend on It

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All work and no play, to paraphrase an old saying, makes Jack and Jill dull employees. Which is why vacations are part of the benefit package of any regular full-time job.

Vacations re-charge your batteries so you can come back to work refreshed and energized – or at least they're supposed to.

Taking work with you

But some people have a habit of taking work with them on vacation. They spend large chunks of time checking voicemails, e-mails and even checking in with the office. To be sure, there are times when such vacation diversions are unavailable – say, if you own your own business, you’re a CEO or your responsibilities require your attention when there’s a huge crisis.

But in most cases – and you’d have to trust us on this – your employer can live with your absence for a week or two.

How to make the most of your vacation

  • Prepare for your vacation. “Communicate with those you work with the dates that you will be on vacation and who they can contact in your absence,” says Shari McGuire, career coach and author of Take Back Your Time: 101 Simple Tips to Shrink Your Work-Week and Conquer the Chaos in Your Life.

  • Brief your backup. "Prior to leaving, brief those who are backing you up on everything they need to know while you are out so they are well-prepared to stand in your place,” McGuire tells eFinancialCareers.

  • Don’t overestimate your importance to your employer. “Check your ego at the door,” says McGuire. “No one person is so important that they have to be connected to work at all times. You also do your career a disservice when you refuse to relinquish control to others in your absence because your superiors will view you as too valuable and will overlook you for promotions.”

  • Set goals and stick to them. Sometimes vowing not to check your e-mails or voicemails is a losing proposition. But you can still set goals.

“Allow yourself a small allowance, say one time a day in the morning and provide significant incentives if you stay within your goal,” Scott Rozman, a career and life coach, tells eFinancialCareers. “Make a commitment to others. If you're traveling with someone, give them your word … something like: ‘I will not work while I am on vacation’ or ‘I will not go onto my computer or check e-mails while I am on vacation.’" After you've made a commitment/promise to others, make it an extreme penalty if you:

  • Go to your e-mail more than once a day, or at all, if you can commit to that.
  • Check messages on your phone.
  • Do any work whatsoever.

Consider weekend escapes

Julie Morgenstern, a productivity and time management expert, suggests breaking up your vacation into weekend getaways. “Schedule weekend escapes throughout the year instead of one to two solid weeks off,” she says. “These escapes will refresh your spirit, create mini-motivators to get your work done and fuel your energy without taking you out of commission for a long stretch. [The] best part is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get away: pick a destination nearby and take a ‘one-tank’ road trip.”

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