Just where did I put that to-do list? Oh, here it is…right under the pile of to-dos. As usual, I’m later than I planned to be posting this blog because of all the client deadlines that were pushed to the top of the list. I didn’t put “find creative inspiration” anywhere on my list, but I think I should have.
The reason I’ve procrastinated writing it is because I just wasn’t feeling inspired. Why not? Because like you, my schedule is so jammed that I’m overwhelmed. And when the queen of multi-tasking becomes overwhelmed, I end up reprioritizing the to-do list to make sure all the “important” things done first – usually the ones that affect the bottom line.
Guess what else is missing from the list? A vacation. A break. Downtime. I don’t know about you, but I’m just not good at putting a “break” onto the calendar. Even though traveling is truly one of my favorite pastimes, too much time is passing without scheduling one in. “Boo hoo.” “Get in line.” “My BlackBerry is running out of battery life as quickly as yours.” I know – I hate martyrs too. Seriously, I’m not whining. It is in downtime that we find inspiration. We reenergize. We add balance to our lives. We get creative. And since I’m in the business of being creative, then working a break into the to-do list is even more critical.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve criticized my friends who work in big corporate America for not using all their vacation time. “Why on earth wouldn’t you,” asks the girl who takes less time off than they do? “It’s not like the work won’t still be there when you return!” The answer I usually get isn’t printable. But you get my drift.
Here are some disheartening statistics from studies on vacation time in America: According to an article in the New York Times, about 25 percent of American workers in the private sector do not get any paid vacation time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Another 33 percent will take only a seven-day vacation, including a weekend.
In a 2009 study conducted by Expedia.com, 34% of respondents reported not using all their vacation time each year, which is an increase from 31% reported in 2008. In addition, one in five respondents CANCELED their vacation all together due to work (yes, sadly, I am guilty of this). To see the full report, click here.
According to a 2007 survey commissioned by Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., nearly 50 percent of small business owners take only major holidays off, or nothing at all. That’s less than half the average number of vacation days used by the rest of the world, including Canada, Britain and Japan, as reported by the World Tourism Organization.
The Travel Industry Association published a list of benefits to vacationing. Here are a few highlights:
- An annual vacation can reduce a person’s risk of heart attack by 50 percent.
- Blood pressure, heart rate and levels of epinephrine, a stress hormone, decline on breaks of only one or two days.
- Travelers get three times more deep sleep after their vacation.
With the economy in the state it is, a lavish trip to Italy may not be an option. Right now I’d be happy with a day free from my BlackBerry so I can plow through my ever-growing back log of magazines (and not work ones!). But the point is that taking a break is necessary for us to stay inspired. To continue to turn out good work for our clients. To stay healthy and happy.
So, with the holidays quickly approaching, put in for a few days off. Sign up for a yoga class. Or a wine class. Or both (just not on the same night). Do something to give your brain a break for a few days, heck maybe even a week! You’ll be thankful for it when you come back refreshed and ready to take on the world. Ok, now I can cross this article off my to-do list. And I just added planning a winter vacation to it! Barrett-Jackson Auctions in Scottsdale in January, here I come…