5 Reasons You Should Never Work While on Vacation

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A vacation is supposed to mean time away from your everyday life to rest and recharge. Yet many people are still tethered to the office while on a break, including the 34% of millennials who said they worked every single day of their vacations, according to the 2015 Alamo Family Vacation Survey. Members of Gen Y were most likely to blur the boundaries between being at work and being off the clock, a separate Randstad study found.

Constant connectivity and always-on devices have created an expectation among both employers and employees that they should be available at all times, even while officially off the clock. For some, that just means replying to the occasional email, but for others, it might include calling in for conference calls and putting the final touches on that big presentation. Overall, 77% of Americans reported working while on a recent vacation, compared to 40% of people in countries like Brazil, Australia, and Germay, a TripAdvisor poll found.

“In today’s highly connected world, most Americans feel the need to stay plugged in even while out of the office,” Brooke Ferencsik, director of communications for TripAdvisor, said in a statement.

Unfortunately, there are a few downsides to turning the beach into your temporary office. Here are five reasons why you should try to stick to a strict policy of not working on vacation.

1. Because you earned it

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Paid vacation time, if you’re lucky enough to have it (26% of American workers don’t), is a valuable benefit. Yet people in the United States are throwing away the equivalent of $52.4 billion every year by not taking all their allotted PTO, according to a study by the U.S. Travel Association (USTA). When you don’t take your earned time off, you’re essentially giving yourself a pay cut.

“Americans are taking the value of their time for granted. By passing on vacation days and working instead, U.S. employees are serving as volunteers for their companies,” said Adam Sacks, founder and president of Oxford Economics’ Tourism Economics division, which conducted the study for the USTA.

And if you think sacrificing time off now is going to pay off in the long-term, think again. The study also found that people who had between 11 and 15 days of unused vacation days were 6.5% less likely to get a raise or a bonus than those who took all their paid time off.

2. Because you’ll be healthier

Your boss may not believe it, but taking time off is going to make you a happier, healthier worker bee. Men who take frequent vacations tend to live longer, according to data from the Framingham Heart Study. Taking breaks from work can also reduce stress; high levels of stress can contribute to both mental and physical health problems.

“Rest, relaxation, and stress reduction are very important for people’s well-being and health … vacation is an important part of this,” physician Natasha Withers from One Medical Group in New York told ABC News.

3. Because you deserve a life outside of work

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You are more than your job. A vacation is not a just a chance to relax, but also an opportunity to have new adventures, practice your hobbies, and generally do the things that make you happy.

“It’s essential to have outside hobbies from work,” Phil Shils, physician assistant at Hospital Sisters Health System Medical Group​, told U.S. News & World Report. He suggests that people on vacation explore new activities that they can continue to participate in after their vacation ends.

Taking time to define who you are outside of your career may also improve your mental health and reduce anxiety. “When people rely only on their role at work to foster self-esteem, that alone cannot typically fulfill their needs,” Michelle P. Maidenberg, a psychotherapist and business coach, told the New York Times.

4. Because you may solve a stubborn problem

Sometimes, solutions to stubborn dilemmas come when we least expect them. If you’ve hit a roadblock on a project at work or can’t solve a nagging problem, taking some time off could make it easier to find the solution. Research has shown that an “aha” moment produces about 60% of solutions to complex problems, and that these moments are more likely to occur when your brain is well-rested.

“When you’re thinking about a problem, it’s confined to one or two regions in the brain, but the solution may not be in those areas,” Jeff Stibel, CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. and author of Wired for Thought, told Entrepreneur. “By resting, the information sits in your brain and then percolates across other sections of the brain.”

5. Because you’ll be more productive when you get back

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People who used all their paid vacation and truly unplugged while they were away reported feeling more productive when they did return to work, Alamo’s survey found. Among the millennials surveyed, those who worked every day while on a break said they felt less productive when they were officially back on the job.

Science backs up the idea that taking time off can boost your productivity. “There is a lot of research that says we have a limited pool of cognitive resources,” Allison Gabriel, an assistant professor of management at Virginia Commonwealth University, told Entrepreneur. “When you are constantly draining your resources, you are not being as productive as you can be. If you get depleted, we see performance decline. You’re able to persist less and have trouble solving tasks.”

Follow Megan on Twitter @MeganE_CS
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