How I Spent My Summer Vacation

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time."

 - John Lubbock

 I use the summer as a time to assess my progress toward personal goals and objectives at the midpoint of the year, and to recalibrate as needed.  I do the same for my clients, and I help them make sure that they are on track for a successful year. Summer is a great time for reflection and planning- the days are longer, and somehow there seems to be more quiet time available.

Summer is also a great time for rest and relaxation. I'm a big fan of vacations- not just a day off, but a real vacation, where you detach and (ideally) unplug.  Lately, I feel like an outlier when I say that I'm going to be "off the grid" for a few days.  It's all too easy to stay connected, and to "just  take a quick look" at your emails while trying to enjoy a day of relaxation.

Well, as a matter of fact, not taking vacation time is a bad idea,  for you as well as for the economy. A 2014 U.S. Travel Association study reported that more than 40% of American workers who received paid time off did not take all of their allotted time last year, despite the obvious personal benefits.

According to the study, the benefits of taking time off include higher productivity, stronger workplace morale, greater employee retention, and significant health benefits. But nearly 34% of employees surveyed said that they were not encouraged to take vacation time, and 17% of managers considered employees who take all of their leave to be less dedicated.

For me, the most depressing statistic is that 40% of workers surveyed said that although they were supported in taking time off, their heavy workload kept them from using it. This is upsetting for many reasons, not the least of which is that creativity and productivity suffer without needed breaks and recharging.

“Despite the myriad benefits of taking time off, American workers succumb to various pressures-some self-imposed and some from management-to not take the time off to which they are entitled,” Adam Sacks, president of the Tourism Economics division of Oxford Economics, said. “Leaving earned days on the table harms, not helps, employers by creating a less productive and less loyal employee.

I came back from my vacation in California, where we were in a remote part of the state- often without cell service- rested and refreshed and (almost) eager to get back into the various projects I'm working on.  I was able to spend a good portion of my downtime thinking about my work in a big-picture kind of way, allowing new ways of looking at things. I'm grateful for the opportunity to escape from my regular routine, and excited about approaching my work with a fresh and clear perspective.

What are you doing for your summer vacation?