In our culture of packed schedules, hyper-connectivity, and work martyrdom, American workers are in serious need of a break. It’s time to start being intentional about how we spend our vacation days, and plan ahead!
In-depth research proves that Americans who take time to plan how they will use their vacation time in the year ahead are happier than those who do not. They are happier with their health and well-being, their financial situation, their marriage, and even their overall mood. Research also shows that simply having something to look forward to—like a vacation—improves your happiness. But nearly half of American households fail to take the simple step of planning their time off.
Here’s how to avoid that mistake and boost your happiness in the process:
- First, confirm your paid time off benefits. Don’t take someone else’s word for it: some benefits may have changed from last year (many organizations offer additional days based on your years of service) so confirm what you have available by asking your manager or HR director.
- Review your calendar for the year. It’s important to see when you could actually take a vacation. Consider:
- Holidays during the year. If your office is closed for a holiday, could you add an extra day off and turn a one-day holiday into a four-day weekend vacation?
- Workloads and coworkers. Think of when you are busiest during the year and when times are a little bit slower for your business. Try to plan for the slower times and make sure that your responsibilities are covered by your coworkers.
- Family events and other important dates. Will you want to take time off for things like weddings, family reunions or birthdays – figure out when they’ll be in advance.
- What are you going to cross off your bucket list this year? Where have you been wanting to travel? What are you dying to try? This is the fun part, where your dreams and goals come in. You don’t necessarily need to know what you’ll do with every vacation day – just plan the days off now.
- Talk with your boss and colleagues about your time off. Don’t be anxious, nearly all senior business leaders believe in vacation time benefits for their employees.
- Think about how you’re going to share your experience with your colleagues when you’re back at work – nearly 28% of people don’t do this. You will benefit from your time off, and your coworkers can, too, by taking a vacation by themselves!
Join Project: Time Off on January 31 for National Plan for Vacation Day. Get excited, use your time off and plan ahead to be a part of taking back the 658 million unused vacation days that Americans leave every year. Learn more about this event here.