Take a Vacation to Secure Your Job

Why vacations drive better business results.

When times are tough, the tough get going. Unfortunately, sometimes they go too hard for too long and dry out their creative juices. One of the worst habits people develop during bad times is working constantly without a break.

They might be working to keep the business alive, working to justify that a current job is deserved or working to get a job. In any case, nonstop working generates dramatically negative effects. Imagine a baseball player who plays 500 games a year and takes batting practice eight hours every day of the year. Does the word “burnout” come to mind? And yet that is the unsustainable pace many business people set themselves during dismal economic slumps.

Vacate to accelerate

Ok, repeat after me: “I need great energy to do great work.” All together now: “I need great energy to do great work.” And now just the men… And now just the women…

When times are good, most people take breaks. They go on vacations. They get refreshed. And their renewed energy contributes to the upward cycle of greater performance at work. When times are bad, many people avoid taking necessary breaks. They try to work themselves into a frenzied state of being in the name of “We’ve got to plow through this and find a way to succeed.” Their reduced energy contributes to the negative cycle of lowered performance at work.

For the good of your organization, take regular breaks. Take advantage of your vacation benefits and use all your vacation days, and get away from work. During the work day, take a break and go for a walk. Clear your mind. This is critical to long-term success. If you really want to accelerate your achievements in a meaningful way, then vacate your work setting and let your mind rest. You’ll come back to work ready to climb the next mountain rather than wanting to drive into the nearest ditch.

The power of the unfocused mind

Ironically, the people who supposedly never take a break end up wasting a lot of time at work being “half in and half out.”

Take 10 minutes really to daydream about a particularly happy time in your life. Let the good memories soak in and clear everything else out. Then when you mentally come back to a work issue, you’re coming at it with a fresh mind. Rather than worrying all day about things you can’t control, give your mind the rest it deserves by consciously going away from work and going to a mental resort.

We’ve all heard people say they get their best ideas while taking a shower. That’s because they’ve relaxed their minds, and lo and behold, good ideas pop out. There is great value produced from the focused mind, but there is also great value generated by the unfocused mind. Once you’ve clarified an issue you want to resolve or an outcome you want to achieve, mentally let it go. Get away from your work. Take your family on a vacation, even if it means checking into a local hotel on an inexpensive night or going to a movie.

Get away from work! (Did that help clarify my advice for you?) Amazingly, you will find that better ideas will come to you the farther away you get from the issue or desired outcome.

Have the courage to avoid busywork

With the best of intentions, people love to ask, “So what have you been up to lately?” During a recession, the respondents to this question seem to be on the defensive to an even greater degree than usual and want to make sure that everyone knows how hard they are working. So the tendency is for the respondent to create a massive amount of busywork so that no one will ever think he is not a hard worker.

Remember that business is not about “busyness” but rather about “creating and delivering value to customers that improves key results in sustainable ways.” The best way for you to create and deliver this type of value is not to fill your day up with busyness. The best way is carefully to marshal your energy, then focus it only on the tasks that generate great value for your customers.

Use pit stops wisely

One of the biggest management insights I gained from studying professional auto racing is that there are three key strategic moments in every auto race. They occur during caution flags, turns in the track, and pit stops. The way in which the drivers use these three key strategic situations invariably determines who wins and who loses the race. For a far more in-depth document on the idea that vacations drive better results, I encourage you to read Chapter Six: Use Pit Stops Wisely from “The Management 500,” which you can get by clicking here.