School is out and summer is here. Traditionally this is the time of year when people normally think about taking vacation. I hope you are thinking along these lines, and are planning on getting away from your normal work routine and taking a vacation.
Early in my career I had a great boss who I highly respected. I was the General Manager of a printing plant, and he had a unique rule for his leaders that he absolutely held me to every year. He demanded that I take at least one 2-Week vacation per year. It had to be 2 weeks straight!
His reasons for doing this, which I found to be spot on, are just as relevant in our digital world today. Truly unplugging is the key to reap the same benefits that the organization and I received from me taking a 2-Week vacation 25 years ago.
Taking two weeks allowed me to totally decompress. It would usually take about a week to forget about what was going on at work. The second week is where I received the true benefit of the vacation. I was finally relaxed and totally focused on my family.
The benefits for the organization are just as great. If a leader is only gone for one week, people can save their challenges and issues until the leader gets back. If they are gone two weeks, these issues have to be dealt with. Therefore this was a great development exercise for the rest of the organization.
I believe that you will reap the following benefits of taking a vacation:
- Your Health – The stress of your work can take a serious toll on both your mental and physical health. People are not designed to expend energy continuously. Rather, we are meant to pulse between expending and recovering. It is important that we keep this in mind both short term, within each of our days, as well as over the long term throughout a year. Taking vacation provides a chance for your body to turn off the stress systems, to recuperate and to repair.
- Your Performance – When you properly manage your stress, your improved health and mental well being will lead you to build performance and be more productive at work. Your outlook on work will improve, your attitude will be more positive, and you will be more motivated to achieve your goals.
- Your Creativity – Most of the year, you live on a schedule. You eat at the same restaurants, see the same people, and experience the same environment. This monotony reduces the opportunities for inspiration and for new ways of thinking. By taking a vacation and traveling to a different environment, you put yourself in a new situation, and allow your brain to think differently. This change can lead to the generation of great ideas upon your return to work.
- Your Family Relationships – A real vacation is the ideal time for you to reconnect and revitalize relationships that may have taken a hit from an on-call, always-on, and work-obsessed culture. Family vacations increase family bonding. Time spent together isolated from ordinary everyday activities (school, work and so on) help to promote positive ties with each other and create lasting memories. It also helps maintain priorities in your life!
To fully receive these benefits in today’s digital world, it is not enough to just to leave the office. You need to check out and switch off. Try not to think about all of the things that annoy you in work, don’t log into your email unless absolutely necessary and limit your use of electronic devices. Digital detox in this day in age needs to be a part of your vacation.
Don’t feel guilty about taking the time off you’re entitled to. You have earned it. But also don’t think of it as optional, instead as a requirement. Vacations are important for a healthier you, a happier office and a more productive workplace. Servant leaders know they need to model the way for what they expect from others. Taking your vacation, and truly checking out and getting off the grid, will be a great model for others to follow!
Enjoy your vacation this summer!!
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” ~ Mark 6:31