January might not be your favorite month as a full-time employee. The holidays are over, you’re back at work, and your pants are undeniably tighter than they were two weeks ago. To top it off, you’re about to buckle down for three months of cold, dark, harsh weather.
But not all is lost; as of January 1st, you are back to having full vacation days!
Yet the typical full-time employee only has 10-15 vacation days to use in a year. While most people can agree that time off work is critical to mental and physical health, it’s not a lot of days to work with. So what’s the best way to make the most of them?
I advocate spreading out your vacation days throughout the year rather than taking one or two longer breaks. Here’s four reasons why shorter is better!
1. You Can Take Them More Often
Studies show taking more vacations make you happier and healthier! Our brains give us a mood boost whenever we have an upcoming opportunity to take a break from work, regardless of its duration. You can look forward to an upcoming vacation from work every couple of months, instead of slogging through six long months before your coveted two week break in July. You can take six or seven vacations in a year if you only use two days at a time and tack them onto weekends and long weekends.
2. It’s Easier to Plan For
Financially and logistically, shorter vacations are easier to arrange. You don’t need to spend as long saving up for them. You don’t need to spend as much time figuring out where to eat, or what activities you’ll be filling your days with. You only have a few days to plan for, so you can focus on just a few highlight activities to make the most of your trip.
3. Shorter Vacations May Actually Be More Memorable
In 2012, Time posted this article about how shorter vacations create better memories. Evidence suggests that you’re better off having two action packed days off work than a longer, less intense vacation. Think back to the last vacation you took that was a week or longer. Chances are, there was a least one or two days where you didn’t do much, or it was more of the same of what you’d already one.. Or can you even remember those days? (See what I did there?)
4. Returning to Work Sucks Less
You’ve just returned to work after two weeks off. You have 3602 emails in your inbox, and stack of paperwork that’s as tall as your cubical. The project you were working on right before you left inevitably went sideways in your absence. Worst of all, you have to deal with the chunks of congealed milk floating in your two week old cup of coffee because you forgot to rinse it out before you left for your vacation. Need I go on?
To reap the most benefits from your vacations, keep them short, sweet, and frequent. This year, try spreading your vacation days out instead of taking them all at once. You could take some three-to-four day trips to a Northern resort, or Southern winery. You can even take two or three well-planned “staycations”. So what are you waiting for? Take next Friday off and get vacationing!