Posted by Courtney E. Howard
I was pondering the upcoming holiday weekend when it hit me: It is nearly September and I have not taken a vacation! Where did the time go? I can guarantee I am not the only one, especially in the U.S.
"U.S. employees are taking less time off than ever: Not only is the average number of annual vacation days granted to them a mere 12.4 -- less than that of the average medieval peasant -- but more than a third of us don't even use all of our allotted time off," reported Chris Taylor, Business 2.0 Magazine senior editor (http://money.cnn.com/2006/08/03/technology/fbvacations0803.biz2/index.htm). "Collectively, American workers give a whopping 1.6 million years' worth of unused vacation time back to their employers every year," he continues. "Even worse, at least 20 percent of us admit to sneaking some work along with us during our paltry vacation time, according to the New York-based Families and Work Institute. The American Management Institute puts the figure at closer to 50 percent. Either way, the trend appears to be increasing. An Intel survey found that 53 percent of us would like to take laptops on future vacations, mostly so we can sneak a peak at our work email."
I find this absurd, largely because I am guilty of it and it drives me mad. As I type, in fact, I am working late on a week night. I have done this repeatedly, in job after job, and in each instance, it has gotten me nowhere – except maybe burned out and resentful.
Why do I do this? What is wrong with me?! I have to make it stop, as do all of us that engage in this self-destructive nature. "It is crazy-making," as my own boss would say -- although he too was recently (and ironically) caught blogging during his week off.
I propose a movement whereby we all stop this insanity and actually take our well-deserved vacation time -- make a real, concerted effort to stay away from our laptops and other portable work-related devices (PDAs, Blackberry, etc.), and succeed at it. I suggest that we make vacation mandatory! After all, if my boss told me to do it, I bet I would get it done.
Enjoy a labor-free Labor Day!