Working on vacation has become a reality for many employees. But just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Here are 10 good reasons for you to avoid work during your time off:
1. You set a precedent. When you send emails on vacation, you're setting an example that all your workplace colleagues will follow. Instead, set an example of balance. Show your employees that it's OK to disconnect, particularly if you're in a managerial role. They'll take their cues on how to act on vacation from you.
2. Getting ahead isn't worth it. When you don't have to work, the idea of getting ahead is appealing. You should know that it's impossible. However, the more work you do, the more work will appear. The only way to truly get ahead is to put a moratorium on your to-do list. That way, you'll be bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to dive in with renewed vigor when you return to your 9-to-5.
3. You need a break. In a world that is always on, you need a break. Your mind needs stimulation other than spreadsheets and your body needs exercise away from the computer. While it's fine to dip into your inbox for an hour or two here or there, don't get caught up in trying to stay on top of everything. It will all get done ... when you're back at your desk.
4. Work-life balance is becoming a blur. Increasingly, we blur work and life together, expecting our careers to enrich and provide meaning to our lives. All well and good if you love your job, but there's no need to put that kind of pressure on yourself if you don't. While it may no longer be trendy to separate work and life, it's necessary, at least for a couple weeks every year. You receive vacation time for a reason. Use it.
5. You'll be a drag. If you need to work for an hour in the morning, your partner—or your child or your grandmother—has to wait around for you to finish. No one wants to put the Eiffel Tower on hold while the workaholic finishes one more thing. Not only do you ruin your vacation but you put a damper on everyone else's trip, too. Try enjoying the company of the people you love; they're a lot warmer than your laptop.
6. You'll miss out. Inspiration and invigoration abound when you're in a new place, surrounded by new faces. Don't miss out on a nice day by spending it behind your Blackberry. Go out and explore. Get caught in the rain in Paris. Lay under the sun in the Bahamas. Go on a safari in Africa. Creativity flows through the consumption of ideas, not pixels.
7. Travel is work already. As much as we enjoy it, travel can be a job all on its own. Planning your trip, assessing a budget, and deciding what to do and how to get there is often stressful enough. Not to mention travel delays and dealing with airlines. If you try to add work on top of it all, don't be surprised when you find yourself overwhelmed, not rested.
8. Wi-Fi is often slow and unreliable. Even if you've staked out the Wi-Fi cafes, ensured your hotel has Internet access, or bought an extra data plan, logging on will always be a pain when traveling. Inevitably, your connection will stop working right when you think you need it most. Take it as a sign, and connect with the locals and culture that day instead.
9. You can travel lighter. If you don't have to work on vacation, you don't have to bring your laptop, the power charger, the converter, and more. Less to carry means smaller suitcases, and more room for that extra bikini or souvenirs. Not to mention, you don't have to worry about one of your most valuable belongings getting stolen. If you don't bring it, no one can take it.
10. The old adages are true. When you're lying on your deathbed, will you wish you had spent more time working? Probably not. Memories are made during your time off, so start creating the stories you'll tell your grandchildren now. Energy spent on your career is significant, but it's good to remember that time spent with your friends and family is what's truly important.
Rebecca Thorman's goal is to help you find meaningful work, enjoy the heck out of it, and earn more money. Her blog Kontrary offers career, business, and life advice that works. She writes from Washington, D.C.