How is your vacation and/or holiday going? If you were lucky, you may have had the day off. But, many American workers did not.
Number of vacation days taken decreasing
Back in 2014, CBS News reported that the average American was entitled to about 16 days annually for vacation. About 15 years prior, the average number of vacation days taken by Americans according to Harvard Business Review (HBR) was 20.6 days, or about 3 weeks.
Boy have things changed. Today, in 2023, Forbes estimated that 83 million Americans don’t get any time off– no paid time off for holidays or vacations. That equates to about one-third (31%) of the total working population! Even for those staffers fortunate enough to have the benefit of paid time off (PTO), many continue to work. How many you might ask? About 52% or half of those vacationing use the time to get caught up on job assignments or take the time to prepare in advance of upcoming deadlines for work projects.
Not only that, but think about it. What if we could monetize the unused vacation days that have been accumulated? There were almost 1 billion (765 million to be exact) vacation days unused by American workers. That’s a boatload of money!
Advanced technology makes it difficult to disengage
One of the saddest things about the advent of advanced technology is that people are chained to their work nonstop. This includes employees and freelancers working from home or digital nomads working from anywhere. We check on our websites and glance at our professional social media feeds. We pop into our email to respond to the needs of others and all of a sudden we’re in this spiral that is hard to extricate. We become so fixated on the task at hand. We may even ponder if we own a remote online business, whether we’re earning enough or have developed enough passive revenue streams while we are supposedly not working.
Even people who take official vacation time off from work feel tied to their home office desks, traveling laptop or mobile device regardless of whether or not they’re soaking up the sun on a beach in the Caribbean. Work addiction is real, whether intentional or not.
If you’re an online entrepreneur, things may be even worse when it comes to vacation time. You will work on a plane, in a hotel room, or even while walking through Disney World past a Mickey Mouse cavalcade. You’ll excuse yourself from an intense family discussion, social gathering and even intimate exchanges with your significant other.
It’s not because you want to, per se. It’s because you feel as if you should. After all, the gadget you’re carrying has you connected to the world wide web on a nonstop basis. So to neglect or ignore your work, small business goal feels shameful.
Benefits of taking short breaks during day
Vacation time is different from regular downtime. Vacations stretch out a bit longer – from two days to two weeks, or four weeks or more (Europe or South America), and they’re vital for you to be able to achieve work-life balance.
We know that research has shown that taking short breaks throughout one’s day can dramatically increase work productivity and lower the chances of work burnout. Studies cited by Business News Daily revealed these additional data points related to intermittent work pauses throughout the day.
- 59% experienced higher levels of work happiness
- 43% explained that they would be happier with their personal lives
- 37% suggested they would experience improved health
Benefits of taking extended breaks
The same is true for extended breaks, traditionally called taking holidays, paid time off and vacations. Research citied by Allied Health indicate many physical and mental health benefits. It was reported that regular vacationers experience:
- less stress
- less risk of heart ailments
- hold a better outlook on life
- are more motivated to achieve personal and professional goals
Even when we don’t take into consideration academic and industrial / organizational (I/O) psychological research, we intuitively sense that everyone needs an extended break in order to clear their mind from all of the stressful clutter they’re hoarding in their head. When you return to work, you feel rejuvenated and invigorated.
Taking a vacation isn’t just about giving up work for a period of days, but it’s also about stepping away from your responsibilities in your personal life, too. You need to have time where you’re not cooking dinner every night, cleaning up after your family, and staying stuck in the same four walls seven days a week.
A vacation doesn’t have to be a strain on your budget. You can certainly travel to five-star hotels and eat at Michelin-star restaurants if you please. Or, you can save up for a getaway that doesn’t break the bank.
You can go camping somewhere serene and beautiful, take a road trip and stay at discount bed and breakfasts, do free and fun activities instead of those requiring a hefty fee.
Taking time off of work and your typical home life – even if it’s in your backyard, locally where you usually live, is a great way to recharge and renew so that you’re the best at everything you do, giving it your all.