I saw this meme recently and it got me thinking about how relentless we are when it comes to work.

I just returned from a week of local travel. I know I will be a more creative and productive employee when I return to work because I took time off. My brain and my body will be refreshed and renewed. In the few articles I scanned to prepare for this post, it is clear that time away from the office boosts productivity, creativity, and employee engagement.

The United States is the only industrialized country without statutory minimum paid leave. That means that US employers are not required to give employees paid vacation time, although most do at least for full-time employees. In the higher education system I work in, administrator benefits include generous paid leave. The problem is that many, many administrators don’t use their vacation days.

For most of my career, I have intentionally planned my vacation time. About 2-3 times a year I look ahead to the next few months and plan when it makes the most sense to take time off. If I don’t plan for it, my work obligations will take over. Planning for summer vacation starts in August the previous year. We rent a beach house every August, so when I book the rental for the next summer I block the week off in my calendar. Each spring, usually in April, I look at my calendar and plan out summer vacation time. I take time off around July 4th for an extended holiday. I plan 1-2 Fridays off in the months of June, July and August for beach days or other outings. If my work schedule can accommodate time off before Labor Day, I block those days off too. Planning time off in April means I can can plan other work events around these days so I can be intentional about taking vacation days when the campus is quieter. If I didn’t plan ahead, my work obligations would take precedent and I wouldn’t get the time off I crave.

Take your vacation time. You need it. Your employer will benefit from it.

How do you plan for your time off? I would love to hear from you. Email me at drkimburns@gmail.com or connect with me on Instagram at @drkimburns. You can also sign up for my newsletter, Some Things to Think About, that I send out every two months.

Kim with heart

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