I know many people who feel guilty about taking time off from work, those who have never taken the occasional “mental health day”, and even some who end up with unused vacation days.
I have trouble understanding why someone wouldn’t take a deserved vacation, and as I was away on vacation for the past two weeks I clearly do not have this problem! As someone who absolutely loves to travel, I have negotiated more vacation time instead of more money in previous jobs. I believe in the power of a vacation – even if you don’t go anywhere and simply shake up your normal routine – to refresh the body and the mind.
A simple consequence of more vacation time off may be that since you know you will be away from work for a longer period that you compensate by working smarter to get everything done in the time that you have.
Another theory is that a vacation serves to reset yourself and you come back refreshed and more productive. If you look at the time-management Pomodoro Technique (that recommends taking a small five-minute break after 20 minutes of work) you could say that if it works throughout the day, why wouldn’t it work on a larger scale?
Vacations can also help you to refocus on short and long-term goals and to figure out if you are going in the right direction at work. During one memorable vacation in Mexico, my husband and I decided that it would be great to work from home and to live somewhere warmer than Southeast Ontario (sorry Canada – I still love you). Over the course of five years, we both managed to obtain work-from-home jobs and had moved to North Carolina!
I believe that vacations are valuable not only to help with your work-life balance but to also allow you to dream, refocus, and be more productive when you get back feeling refreshed. I know it works for me!