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Why You Should Unplug During PTO
In September 2021, I went on the best vacation of my life. A lot of things contributed to making it my favorite trip of all time: the location (Portugal), my traveling companion (a friend who I hadn’t seen in years), and being back in the world after a two-year hiatus (damn you, Covid!). But the most important factor was that I completely unplugged from work.
That’s right. I left my laptop at home, turned off my work notifications, and totally avoided Slack: I didn’t even log in to share photos of Portuguese mailboxes and post offices. (I work for a direct mail agency, after all.)
Radical? Maybe. According to a 2021 study, 82% of American workers reported working while on vacation, and 90% said that they check work messages and emails during their vacation time.1 But there are tangible benefits to taking a vacation that’s a real break from work, and I experienced them.
Don’t just go away. Get away!
Numerous studies have shown that taking a vacation can improve focus and productivity,2 reduce stress, increase your capacity to learn, and even boost heart health!3 Personally, I came back from my Portuguese adventure refreshed, re-energized, and with a renewed appreciation for what’s really important. On my trip, unplugging allowed me to enjoy new experiences, good food and wine, new and old friends, all without worrying about what was going on at the agency.
I was able to do this guilt-free because my talented and able colleagues covered my accounts, as I will do for them the next time they take a trip or a day off. I set them up for success by making sure they were up to speed on each project and previewing what they could expect to happen while I was gone. Plus, Gunderson Direct’s unlimited PTO policy (that they actually encourage us to use!) meant I didn’t have to choose between this trip and other time off I wanted (or needed) to take during the rest of the year.
Admittedly, it took a while to dig out from the pile of unread emails and get back up to speed on all my projects upon my return (jet lag certainly didn’t help). But the benefits of a vacation without the worries of work far outweigh the inconveniences of unplugging for a while. I’m grateful to work at an agency that values our personal time and experiences as much as they do our work.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to pack for my next adventure…