“I can’t take time off because there’s no one else who can cover for me!”
“If I leave for a week, my boss will think I’m replaceable!”
“I have to skip vacation so that I can finish all my work!”
Do any of these phrases sound familiar? Statistically, they should! The truth is, America is facing a vacation crisis, and the situation looks even more bleak among legal professionals. Taking time off can be difficult. You’re probably operating under deadlines that won’t wait for you to finish sipping that delicious cocktail on the beach. However, it’s still possible to take a vacation!
It may seem counter-intuitive to put effort into scheduling time off, but reports show that it could be vital to your health. According to the US Travel Association, over half of Americans end each year with unused vacation time. This translates to roughly 212 million vacation days forfeited annually. Younger employees, especially millennials, are exponentially more likely to lose out on their vacation time. Taken together, these statistics paint an alarming picture of an exhausted, unproductive, and overextended workforce.
Oftentimes, legal professionals talk about their infrequent vacations with a sense of pride. They believe that the lack of vacation is indicative of their dedication to the job. All too often, legal professionals treat their minds and bodies like machines. Unfortunately, no one is built to operate like that. Research indicates that the more invested in your job you become, the more beneficial the effects of taking a break are. Workers who are coming off a vacation are statistically more productive.
It’s time to push aside the excuses and take the plunge! Once you’ve decided to go on your vacation, there are three steps that can help ensure you enjoy it!
Chances are, if you look six months ahead in your calendar, you’ll be able to find a week to get away. As long as you select the dates in advance and offer sufficient notice to clients and colleagues, you’ll have time to get your affairs in order before you depart. In the weeks and months leading up to the vacation, ensure that your colleagues are aware you will be absent and make arrangements to cover your workload.
Evaluate your personality
A great vacation doesn’t have to break the bank! If it’s been years since your last vacation, you may find yourself tempted by elaborate travel deals and exciting adventure packages. It’s hard to resist the allure of a great deal! However, consider whether the trip itself is something you’re likely to enjoy. For example, if you’re happiest next to an A/C, you may not enjoy a tropical hiking retreat! Even the deal of the century is only worth the splurge if you’re actually going to enjoy it.
(Small tip! Studies have shown that vacationers spend more time focusing on their traveling companions when they select less elaborate and expensive vacations)
When you’re away from the office, it’s often very difficult to emotionally disconnect. The cold turkey approach is rarely effective! You can alleviate some of that vacation anxiety by slowly decreasing the amount of time you spend on connected devices while you’re away.
Of course, you won’t reap the full benefits of vacation if you don’t eventually unplug! Take the first few days to check your devices occasionally but try to spend as much time away as possible.
Most people instinctively know that vacation is important. Despite the tendency to underutilize PTO, there is still a distinct trend toward employee retention in companies who offer more paid vacation. Both job seekers and veteran employees rate paid vacation time as an extremely important part of their compensation package. If you’re one of the many employees with unused vacation time each year, take time to invest in yourself! With a little bit of careful planning, you’ll be able to have a fantastic, restorative vacation. When you return, rejuvenated and enthusiastic, your boss will thank you!