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Take a Break and Recharge!

As the summer months approach, many of us are beginning to formulate our summer plans. But believe it or not, there are a considerable number of those that have not given the thought of a week or even a day or two away from the office a second glance.  As a matter of fact, a 2014 study commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association found that only 77% of Americans used their paid vacation time. As organizations restructure and workers are faced with additional responsibilities and reduced resources, many feel that any time spent away from the office would bring them only more work when they return. But this doesn’t have to be the case and temporarily leaving work behind for even a few days can have immeasurable benefits.

Even small periods of relaxation are critical to our well-being and can effect job performance. Recent internal research conducted by the company EY (formally Ernst & Young) found a direct correlation between taking vacation and scoring a higher performance review. Maryella Gockel, flexibility strategy leader for EY noted that "(i)n the U.S. and Canada ... for each 10 vacation hours a person took, we found on average that performance reviews were 8 percent higher." Time away in a peaceful locale doing what we find enjoyable can not only render an increased sense of connection with family and friends, but can also provide us with positive attitudes and energy when we return to the office.

The following are some helpful tools to ensure that you have a restful, peaceful and enjoyable time away:

Plan ahead. You will be able to make the most out of your time away if you plan ahead. Your plans should include those activities that you find enjoyable and restful.  Sometimes the thought of a week off from work tending to your backyard garden can be appealing. But avoid filling your days with nothing but chores and errands. A quality respite should not feel like just another Saturday.

Don’t overbook. Planning too many activities into a small amount of time can be exhausting, and making sure you accomplish them will be downright stressful! When planning your getaway, list the things that you absolutely want to doand see and save the others for another time.  Most importantly, don’t forget to plan that all important "down time.”

Pare down the electronics.  As impossible as it sounds, it can be done! If you make the commitment to focus on the family, friends and fun activities, you will be pleasantly surprised at what you are missing when you are constantly connected. As smart phones and tablets are great and can enhance your time away by getting directions as well as restaurant and venue recommendations, make the commitment to limit them. By substantially limiting electronics – and their usage - you will find that you suddenly have more time to spend doing what you took the time off to do.

Square everything away at the office.  Be sure to formulate a list of pending priorities before you leave and tie up loose ends. When you know that you have no outstanding deadlines or action items due in your absence, you will be able to turn off work and immediately begin to unwind. Make sure that your phone messages and email auto replies let those who are trying to get in touch with you know who your back up is and when you’ll return to the office. 

Savor your time away and envision the things you are actually working for.  Taking any time away from the rigors and responsibilities of your everyday life can be a treat. Delight and savor it! After all, these moments of rest, relaxation and fun are all a part of what you work so hard for. Taking a well-deserved vacation enables you to see that you are now realizing one of your goals!

Have a great vacation!

This article was published in The Training Connection, Inc.'s June 2015 Newsletter.

© 2015, The Training Connection, Inc., All Rights Reserved.

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