An actual study has been conducted by GfK on the state of American vacation time and its relationship to work culture.

The 7,331 subjects of the study were all in managerial or decision-making positions, and the dreaded return to The Mountain of Work was among the top reasons for not taking time off at all. In fact, the most staggering finding regarded vacation days not being used.

Unused vacation days cost the U.S. economy $236 billion in 2016, due to lost spending. That spending would have supported 1.8 million American jobs and generated $70 billion in additional income for American workers.

The good news is we are taking more vacation days overall. We just need to change our approach to them. And there are ways to fully immerse yourself in the restorative powers of time off, such as:


“Out of office” should mean exactly that. Prioritize what absolutely needs to be completed before you leave, and inform appropriate staff where you left off on whichever projects. Maybe even assign them smaller related tasks so you’re all on the same page upon your return. Communicate whatever goals they can help you meet while you’re offline.


Just because we can all be reached 24 hours a day doesn’t mean we need to be. If your phone is absolutely integral to the survival of your business, then schedule a block of work time and do not work outside of that block. This is your “Me” time. Use it to learn a little something about personal growth, self-improvement, and being present.


Always arrive home from your holiday at least two days before you return to work. There’s a slimmer chance you’ll put pressure on yourself to hit the ground running and ultimately become overwhelmed or burnt out. When you do return to work, ease yourself back into the grind. Let everyone know, yourself especially, where you are in that transition.