Rest & Relaxation & Reinvigoration: How Vacations Can Boost Your Performance at Work

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

It’s almost June – and that means the summer season (and all its festivities) are coming up quickly. With graduation parties, barbecues and Memorial Day weekend just around the corner, you're probably thinking about taking a vacation this summer – and let’s be honest, it’s hard not to! However, you might be balancing that dream vacation against whether it’s going to hurt your position at work. Here’s some good news – it doesn’t have to.

Vacations don’t have to hurt your work performance, and some sources even assert that it’s good for you to take a break. Today, we’ll look at how vacations can actually enhance your work performance and share the best ways to take a work-enhancing vacation.

Vacations can provide fresh starts and new ideas

Although there may be a negative stigma attached to taking a week off for personal time, it may actually help you hatch some new ideas upon your return. Caroline Ceniza-Levine, writing for AARP, notes that taking a vacation can help you work more efficiently and generate more creative ideas.

“Remember how you solved that last crossword puzzle answer in the shower?” she writes. “It’s not a coincidence that when we are stuck on something, thinking harder about it often doesn’t help, while doing something completely different and often mundane leads to a breakthrough. When you relax, you get better, more creative ideas. We think out of the box when we’re actually out of the box! Vacations pull us away from the day-to-day, giving us a week-long “shower” to dislodge the myriad ideas, solutions and alternative thinking otherwise trapped in our overworked brain.”

Days off boost your health and refresh your mind

Work is undoubtedly stressful from time to time, and if you never take time off for yourself, the stress can build up. What better way to refresh your mind than taking a trip? Fortus Healthcare Resources explains that, “Time off from the job may be critical to ensuring that you maintain your health so you can perform your duties and provide the best care possible to your [clients or customers].”

Fortus also notes that using time off from work on a vacation can allow you to return refreshed and ready to start your work with a fresh perspective. “Time away from the job helps you think about things in a new way … It will limit the possibility of becoming burned out on your career or the individual job.”

Taking a vacation without damaging your career

So, let’s say you’ve finally convinced yourself that it’s in the best interests of your health and your career to go on that trip. Now comes the next question: won’t taking a week off damage my career or put my job in jeopardy?

According to Recruiter.com’s Kazim Ladimeji, there are certain steps you can take to minimize that risk, like coordinating your days off with when key contacts are on holiday and planning your vacation to maximize its restoring effects.

Ladimeji breaks it down to three simple steps:

  • Take your vacation when business slows down and key influencers are away;
  • Make sure to plan your vacation thoroughly, so you have a chance to rest and feel restored;
  • “And be sure to actually enjoy your vacation — don’t just look through your work email in a foreign country!”

Six rules for taking your vacation

Now, you’ve finally made your decision to go on vacation for some much deserved personal time. How do you make the most of it? Amy Levin-Epstein of CBS News has your answer. She provides six rules that provide maximum relaxation time so that you can fully enjoy your getaway.

  1. Fly home on Saturday
  2. Designate someone as your eyes and ears back at the office
  3. Avoid the stay-at-home staycation
  4. Quarantine your gadgets
  5. Take mini-breaks (like long weekends) if you can’t take a week off
  6. Skip the 7 a.m. sightseeing and sleep in!

The most important rule out of all of these, according to Levin-Epistein? “Quarantine your gadgets.”

“If the mind is still engaged there [at work thanks to a gadget], that’s pretty similar to physically being there,” says Kevin Gregory of the technology provider Alertness Solutions to Levin-Epstein. “The whole purpose of going somewhere else is having the opportunity to relax.”

 The questions to you

  • What are your favorite or “dream” vacation destinations?
  • What impact do you feel your vacations have on your productivity at work?

 ~ Katie Woo, communications assistant, ASU Alumni Association