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The 5 Secrets of Great Vacations

I read an article about how little time American workers spend on vacation. When compared to the French (5 weeks), and other Europeans, the American 2-week vacation seems downright discouraging. What is even worse is that when polled, most American workers admitted that they often didn’t even use all the vacation time they had coming for fear that if they did, they’d be replaced!

Contrast this with another article I read on how much more efficient workers are when they are relaxed and refreshed. Stress, it turns out, is actually detrimental to good performance (ya think?), and the article found that workers who worked less hours were actually more productive, made less mistakes, and were generally thought of higher than those stressed out workers who are grumbling under their breaths about not having enough time for themselves or their families.

The importance of regular vacations and breaks was proven to me early on in my career. In fact, I plan my year around vacations and three day weekends and regular mini breaks. I find that it’s easier for me to go full out for weeks or months at a time when I know that an exciting vacation or extended weekend is coming up. Also, I find that I’m much more excited about working hard after a good break.

What I’ve also found is that there are guidelines and “best practices” to ensure that you get the most out of vacations and breaks. After years of perfecting vacation, I offer,

The 5 Secrets to Taking Great Vacations — enjoy!

  1. Secret #1 — Schedule and pay for your trips at least six months or more in advance.

    Don’t wait until the last month to take a trip because if you do, you’ll take it. Something will always come up, something will always be more important, and you will always be too busy. By planning, scheduling and paying for your trips far in advance, you’re almost certain to actually take them.

    July or November or March will always come and if you’ve already paid for a trip — you’re going!

    Benefit: When you plan that far in advance, you get to look forward to it for months! It’s a great motivator.

  2. Secret #2 — Go somewhere special.

    Make a list right now of the six places you and your family would love to go. Make this a family activity and enlist their participation. I like to have each family member come up with their three favorite options and then plan an evening to compare and contrast.

    Then, pick one special or exotic places per year and — that’s right — book it now. Go ahead, buy the airfare, book the hotel and car and pay for it. And then, have everyone mark it on his or her calendars.

    Benefit: Watch the attitude of your family change — for the better. Suddenly there’s something bright, fun and enjoyable you are all looking forward to. Gee, the kids sure are nice to be around again!

  3. Secret #3 — Don’t return to work until Wednesday!

    Even though you get back Saturday or Sunday, don’t go right back to the office. Give yourself time to readjust, run errands, and settle back in. Nothing ruins of good vacation more than going back to work the very next day. Vacation? What vacation?

    Benefit: Taking the Monday and Tuesday off is like getting another “bonus” vacation.

  4. Secret #4 — Take at least one mini vacation per quarter.

    Besides your one or two large vacations, plan to take at least one extended weekend, holiday or other three or four day break per quarter. Hitch a Friday and Tuesday onto a Memorial Day weekend, and voila — you have a bonafide vacation using just two personal days!

    Try to go somewhere on at least two of these, and spend the others around the house getting things done or just relaxing.

    But all the previous rules apply: plan, schedule, and pay for them advance!

    Benefit: Even more to look forward to!

  5. Secret #5 — Don’t work while on vacation.

    Your vacation is exactly that — a vacation! Leave your laptop, blackberry, and paperwork at the office. Resist the temptation to check in with your office. This is your and your family’s time.

    Train your sales manager or assistant to handle all business while away. They will do fine without you, and it will all be there when you return.

    Benefit: You will actually feel like you’re on vacation and you’ll enjoy it even more!

So there you have it — the 5 Secrets to Great Vacations. I guarantee that if you follow these rules, you will not only enjoy your life more, but you’ll be more productive at work as well.

Imagine that — more successful and happier!

When is your next vacation?

About the author

Do you have an underperforming inside sales team? Talk to Mike to see how he can help you and your team reach your revenue goals. To learn more about Mike, visit his website: