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Marek Struszczyk

Co-Founder ManagerUp

Last modified: June 7th, 2023

It has been scientifically proven, working without taking vacations diminishes your productivity and creativity. It can even add additional strain on your work and family relationships. The research unrefutably tells us why vacations are important and the critical role they play in your work life balance. Not only will taking regular vacations ensure the right work life balance, but it will also boost your overall productivity.

Generally, executives tend to focus more on the time they spend in the office rather than out of it. But it is arguably of equal importance to focus on how much time they spend out of the office. Ensuring the right amount of downtime and switching off from time to time will have a substantial impact on how well you can perform on a daily basis. 

Typically, executives often have a hard time getting away for a vacation though. There always seems to be a compelling reason to postpone time-off, whether it be the busy season, on the eve of an investor’s meeting, or in the middle of an important product launch. 

So, when is the best time to go on vacation? Perhaps first and foremost, when your health calls for it, chronically overworked middle-aged men and women are at greater risk of serious illness like heart failure

Although, I would recommend taking regular vacations before you burn out. Why wait until it is too late?

Why vacations are important

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, CEOs work an average of 62.5 hours a week. Comparatively, the average American puts in 44 hours each week, or nearly 9 hours a day.

That’s a lot of stress. And this stress wears away at the health of a company’s leadership, both acutely and chronically. The Mayo Clinic has even linked several potentially stress-induced threats to your heart, such as an irregular heartbeat or a higher risk of coronary heart disease.

A recent study found that men were at a 30% higher risk of heart disease and were more likely to have a heart attack if they put off taking a holiday for five years in a row compared to those who went on holiday at least once a year. Even just missing one vacation increased their risk.

Similarly, these risks apply to women as well. Dr. Mehmet Oz highlights that women who forgo vacation for more than a year also have a higher risk of heart disease and death from heart disease. 

In addition to mental and physical stressors, long periods of work without a vacation can lead to reduced productivity, diminished creativity, and strained relationships. One Stanford study discovered that productivity declined sharply after more than 50 hours worked per week.

In sum, the right time to take a holiday from work is when you are beginning to struggle. Before the daily bustle starts to overwhelm you and your body starts to bear the toll. 

Or perhaps more simply, if it’s been a year since your last meaningful break from inboxes, meetings, commutes, business trips, or even your laptop. 

Tips to switch/turn off during holidays

Trust your people

Perhaps like many people, you have a compulsion to constantly check your inbox, even when you are on holiday. But remember, you can’t control the day-to-day that much, vacation or no vacation. As a senior leader, the decisions and vision you laid out a year ago determine the daily results. 

The biggest influencers on your company’s daily operations are the managers working closely with clients. Unless that is you, it’s time to worry less and trust more.

If you have done the groundwork, then you can switch off with confidence and a clear mind.

Go Dark

Brian Scudamore, who oversees four $250 million companies, knows how hard it is to resist remote management. He makes a point of “going dark.” He forces his employees to change his passwords to prevent him from slipping back into daily operations while waiting in line for a mojito. 

By stepping outside the stream of chatter, you can free up energy to let the big questions marinate: where do you need to lead the company over the next 9 to 24 months? This is where you can make the biggest impact.

And that is why vacations are important, they allow you to experience the deep benefits of your downtime will begin to kick in.

Be a better leader: vacations enhance productivity and focus

The inescapable truth is that the way you choose to allocate your time and energy as a business executive plays a considerable part in the overall performance of your company. It is one of the fundamental reasons why executives need a regular vacation. 

Not only are holidays crucial for maintaining your health and wellbeing, but they also help you express your creativity and be a more productive leader. 

Why vacations are important: 

1. You will prevent burnout

There is no executive immune to feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Some stick it out longer than others before burning out. Work-life balance is the key to a healthy and prosperous life.

2. You will facilitate creativity

A simple change of pace and scenery can do wonders for your mental state of mind. A nature trip might spark your creativity and passion you might never have had without stepping outside your daily routine.

3. You will see the big picture

Some distance from work will undoubtedly allow you to see the bigger picture. By unplugging from the everyday, you might see solutions you have been trying to find for a long time. 


As an executive with a lot riding on your business outcomes, you may feel there is no good time to take a vacation. Ironically, this business-over-everything view hurts your performance as a leader. 

By taking the time to delegate your responsibilities and trusting your employees enough to unplug, you can take a well-earned break. 

Giving you the time to focus on your health and wellbeing, your longer-term vision for the company, your career, and your personal relationships. 


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