Hess Associates

Does a Vacation Make You More Productive?

Have you ever wondered how work started in the first place?
Work evolved slowly from the division of labour in primitive hunter-gatherer tribes to medieval farming systems through the industrial revolution, the movement into cities, and the real organization of people into jobs with time slots, formation of a hierarchy of supervisors and managers, the creation of different departments within companies, and the idea that what you do at work defines you as a person.
Although work is less physically onerous than it once was, it is still regarded, however, as something separate from pleasure, and a true division between work and play persists even in today’s highly industrialized, or “post-industrial” society
(brittanica).

All of which means that once upon a time, people did not used to work in 9 to 5 or other time slots (and now 24 hours per day, courtesy of our connected world), mostly under stressful and demanding conditions, with little time to devote to life, R & R, family, catching up, catching rays. People feel guilty if they take a day off, have to take a child to a doctor appointment, choose to attend a child’s graduation ceremony, visit a sick family member, go skiing, play golf, paint their houses when they could be working.

You really do need a break to connect with the real you – working constantly and being tired all the time can stop you from being creative, even stepping back to see the big picture of what you are working on. When you take a break, you have time to think random thoughts and get amazing, bright ideas. You have time to smile, laugh, engage in real, healthy physical activities, jump in the waves, be a kid.
Kids are the ones who run all the time, with their parents always trying to slow them down, until they stop running and being spontaneous altogether.

Studies also find health benefits from taking vacation time, like lower stress, better mental health and even less likelihood of a heart attack (European vacations). 9 of the 10 most productive countries in the OECD are in Europe, where people routinely take 4 or 5 weeks off. Of course, this can only happen in a culture promoting and applauding summer vacations and basking in the sun. Here in North America, people get more burned out, afraid to leave work lest they fall further behind.

But why will you be more productive after your vacation? You will be happier, rested, not having wolfed down food ‘al desko’, having enjoying doing nothing ‘deep’, and returning more focused and goal oriented, and more tolerant of co-workers, bosses, or your team.

Brain imaging studies show that doing nothing, being idle, daydreaming, and relaxing create alpha waves in the brain that are key to creative insights and innovative breakthroughs (psychology today). And a real vacation could also be great for family dynamics.
Too much tension and long work hours are detrimental to your total happiness.
So call your favorite travel agent and off you go!!! Bon voyage! Summer is Beach Time!
Your work will be there patiently waiting for your return – but it won’t look the same when you return – it might even look interesting.

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