#Productivity – How many vacation days do you take?

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from American Way Magazine: The Vacation Emancipation

Male and female keynote speakers who I’ve met on the speaking circuit love vacations. Do you?

Apparently, most of America does not. In 2013, American workers took an average of only 16 of the 21 vacation days given to them. Yikes!

Like other keynote speakers, I do a fair amount of traveling around the country. This gives me the opportunity to flip through the pages of various airline magazines, which are geared toward both business travelers and vacationers. I can prep for my keynotes and workshops by examining what business trends are being eyed or discussed. Or, I can add another destination to my bucket list.

On a flight to Chattanooga, I had the opportunity to browse an issue of American Airlines’s magazine, American Way. I came across an article whose title immediately jumped out at me: The Vacation Emancipation. Most folks know that I live for my yearly summer vacation, as well as a couple of long weekends here and there to visit family in Los Angeles.

What made me dive into Joseph Guinto’s article was the subtitle: “Too many American workers hoard their holiday time. One solution: freeing workers from counting vacation days.”

Anyone who’s attended one of my time management keynotes or workshops knows that I’m a huge advocate of slowing down and taking breaks. This gives our brains a chance to get re-combobulated. Or un-discombobulated…whichever you prefer. Staycations offer a respite for the brain from work strain. Vacations allow us to completely re-charge body, mind and maybe even soul. But in our go-go-go workaholic society, that’s a philosophy and mindset which are not widely accepted or practiced.

Neuro-science tells us that brains which receive ample sleep and hydration – as well as good nutrition – perform better throughout the work day. The same science also tells us that brains become inspired and renewed when we take a break and go for a walk. Imagine that inspiration and renewal amplified when we take an extended break and go on vacation?!

Guinto cited a 2006 study by Ernst & Young that found that its employees who took 10 more hours of vacation time than the average worker scored higher on year-end performance reviews. Time off from work makes us happy, and happiness makes us more productive, which makes us better at work.

I believe we’re still a long way off before companies trust their workers to stop counting and monitoring their vacation days. But in the meantime, let’s use ‘em! When is your next day off?

For more time management tips, visit my other blog posts.

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