In a recent article for Harvard Business Review, time-management coach Elizabeth Grace Saunders suggests that since Americans are so incredibly bad at taking proper off-the-grid, cell-phone-free vacations, they should just starting taking “micro-vacations”—an idea that the folks over at Curiosity deem “brilliant in its simplicity.” So what is a micro-vacation? It’s a day off.
Saunders argues that the short duration of your micro-vacation means no one has to cover your work for you, your inbox doesn’t get clogged, and if you take them frequently enough, you can avoid burnout. She also suggests taking those micro-vacations on Fridays to get that three-day weekend vibe without worrying about missing a Monday. Meanwhile, Curiosity says that “the true brilliance of micro-vacations might be the fact that they don’t need to be vacations at all.” Instead, they suggest using your micro-vacation to “paint the den.” If a whole day off sounds too taxing, they suggest taking “a half-day to have a long lunch with a friend.”
Here’s another suggestion: Take your vacation days.
Yes, vacations are expensive. Job security fears can be real, and companies may not encourage employees to take vacation days, but don’t be part of the 52% of American workers who don’t use their paid vacation days. Go on vacation!
Why? It’s not just because vacationing is fun. There’s plenty of evidence that vacations are good for your physical health, including your heart. One nine-year study from SUNY-Oswego found that vacationing every year reduced the overall risk of death by about 20%, and the risk of death from heart disease by as much as 30%.
Vacations are also good for your mental health, and even your work performance. When Boston Consulting Group started requiring their employees to take time off, it found that productivity went up—and it saw an improved ability to work more efficiently and effectively. That was seconded by an American Psychological Association survey that found most workers returned from vacation in a better mood with more motivation, lower stress, and were more productive and had higher work quality.
If your boss still balks at your vacation plans, remind him or her that a 2017 study by Namely, an HR platform, found that the highest-performing employees took the most vacation time, suggesting that time away from work is good for work. So start planning that vacation and book a ticket somewhere—preferably somewhere without cell service.