Vacations and Better Results

I’m serious about the taking time off thing I harp on all the time. I’m not talking about being lazy or checking out of work without a real recovery plan. I’m talking about you taking scheduled breaks through the year to recharge, to be with family, and to knock out projects around the house for a week or two.

Working too much actually has the opposite effect you’d think it would have. Sure, the short time boost in productivity is pretty awesome. The long term effects of overwork are detrimental to your health, career, and family though.

Bryce Covert at New Republic:

Perhaps it would be worth all of this if working longer and harder produced better results, fueled the economy, and created wealth for everyone. But that’s not likely. Taking some time off actually improves a worker’s productivity at work. A study from Ernst & Young found that every ten hours of vacation time taken by an employee boosted her year-end performance rating by 8 percent and lowered turnover. Former NASA scientists found that people who take vacations experience an 82 percent increase in job performance upon their return, with longer vacations making more of an impact than short ones. Putting in too many hours, on the other hand, does the opposite. More than 60 hours a week will create a small productivity flurry at first, but it’ll start to decline again after three or four weeks. Other studies have found the same initial burst followed, but a worse decline.

But what is it all for? Americans are working harder but not seeing the fruits of their labor. Workers, white collar and blue collar alike, have seen a decade go by without much of an increase in wages despite their increasing productivity. The infamous one percent have taken home 47 percent of total income growth between 1976 and 2007. Turns out, being “crazy, driven, hard-working believers,” in Cadillac’s words, isn’t working out so well for the 99 percent.