I am Currently Out of the Office on Vacation…

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And I am far, far away from my laptop and company email, desperately trying to recharge my batteries.”

If only I had the guts to post an out of office message like that. Like a lot of people in optical, the weeks leading up to Vision Expo West were jam packed for me. The prospect of taking time off seemed nearly impossible, which is why in August I planned a long weekend getaway for the end of September. When I went into our system to put in for my days off, I was shocked at how much vacation I had left. No wonder I was feeling a little burned out. After doing a little research, I realized I wasn’t alone.

Did you know that most Americans who are given paid vacation by their companies don’t take all of it? Two separate surveys, one reported on by Forbes that was conducted by Glassdoor and Harris Interactive, showed that only 25 percent of Americans take all of their paid vacation days. The survey also revealed that 61 percent of employees work while on vacation.

According to Forbes the workplace benefits of employees taking vacation time include higher productivity, stronger workplace morale, greater employee retention and significant health benefits. These are all great points. So why don’t we work as hard at taking time off as we do in the office?

Here are a few tips on how you can take vacation (remember it’s a benefit) without stress or mess. Make sure you have a trusty colleague to back you up, someone who is familiar with your job. Believe me, they will certainly want the favor returned. Meet with your manager a week or two before your time out and review projects and deadlines. Consider taking shorter but more frequent vacations—it’s easier on co-workers. Finally, DON’T constantly check your email while away—it’s too much like being in the office. Bon Voyage.