Have you ever told yourself you’re too busy to take time off from work, or neglected to take the leave you’ve earned?
You’re not the only one. American workers accumulated 705 million vacation days in 2017 (the last year surveyed), and failed to use them.
If that sounds like you, here’s some good reasons to re-think the situation.
Taking your vacation time is actually good for your financial and mental health.
We are definitely leaving time on the table. Despite the trend toward unlimited paid time off in many workplaces, Americans in general get much less leave than workers in other countries (OK, we’re kinda workaholics). But over 50% of people don’t even use all the paid vacation time they are entitled to. Since vacation is often “use it or lose it,” they’re leaving a lot of money on the table.
Get it on the calendar. Think of this as the vacation version of “pay yourself first.” At the start of the year, make plans and block out your vacation time on the calendar. Otherwise, something always comes up to prevent that getaway, and you never get that break you need. If getting away for a week or two is truly impossible, schedule in some three- or four-day mini-breaks. They don’t have to be long or expensive; they just need to get you out of the office.
We stay plugged in too long. Half of U.S. workers stay plugged in and keep working even on vacation (….uh, guilty of that one myself). Sometimes you have no choice but to keep one eye on the email, so make sure to carve out some “unplugged” hours too. Pick a time each day to check in to the office, but the rest of the day, devote your full attention to family, friends and tuning out.
It’s good for you. Just like little kids who need recess, big kids need time to recharge. Overworking with little to no break or downtime puts people at increased risks for stroke, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, insomnia, depression, anxiety, or other stress-related illnesses, says BioSpace, a life sciences career website. Studies show that taking that time off can help you avoid burnout and actually lead to enhanced productivity and happiness on the job, reports CNBC. If that keeps you on the job longer and extends your career, it means more money in your pocket.
The Takeaway: Start thinking of vacation as a tool to help you stay productive and focused at work, and a way to step back and gain perspective on your life and career. Taking the time to decompress, unplug and remind yourself why you’re working so hard is an essential part of every successful financial plan.