Americans get fewer vacation days on average than many other countries, but even so, 55% of Americans did not use all of their vacation days in 2015. And amongst the people who did take vacation, 41% checked in on work while they were away.
There are a lot of factors behind the American work ethic, but the science is clear – taking regular vacations actually helps you be more productive at work. It sounds counter-intuitive, but at every level, employees are more productive when they have a chance to step away from their work lives.
Here are some key stats to consider:
- An Oxford Economics study found that three quarters of workers felt recharged after taking a vacation, half felt more focused, and 41% felt less stressed.
- Another study found that 91% of senior business leaders believe that their employees are less productive when they don’t take time off.
- For every ten hours of vacation time taken, year-end performance ratings go up by 8% on average, according to Ernst&Young.
- Working more than 40 hours per week has been consistently shown to lead to more accidents, less productivity, and lower morale.
Science keeps showing us that working less and taking deliberate periods of rest actually makes us more successful and happier in the workplace. Here are some simple ways that you can improve productivity with rest:
- Unplug and reset. Getting away from work entirely – no emails! – for a few days can help you clear your mind and get the mental rest that you need to come back to work refreshed.
- Get a change of scenery. Visiting a new place helps you break out of your set routines and find inspiration.
- Process what you need to. If you’ve gone through a divorce, lost a family member, or are dealing with an illness, a vacation can be an important step in processing your emotions without the stresses of work weighing you down.
- Remember what you work for. When you’re stuck in the grind, it’s easy to forget what you’re working toward. Vacations help you gain perspective and reconnect with the other most important parts of your life.
The great news is that you don’t need to go on a six-month sabbatical in order to increase productivity with rest. You should absolutely use all of your vacation days, but also look for ways to build deliberate rest into your everyday routine.
- Disconnect from all devices at least 30 minutes before bed so that you get better sleep.
- If you need to, leave work a bit early to see your children before bedtime, then finish up work from home.
- Schedule regular breaks at the office to get up and go for short walks. Working in 90-minute bursts might make you far more productive than struggling at your desk for hours on end.
- Practice meditation and office yoga to get a mental reboot in a matter of minutes.
- Have standing or walking meetings so that you get to the point quickly rather than wasting time.