Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

How to TRULY Go on Vacation, Webster-style

ARCHIVES
Image via Stanislav Komogorov/Shutterstock.com

Another Reason to Work on Vacation: Tax Deduction

I heard the other day on the radio that if you work while on vacation you may be able to deduct a portion of your vacation expenses when you file your taxes. Makes sense…sort of. Mostly it made me think about what vacation really means. Webster’s defines vacation as:

  • a respite or a time of respite from something : intermission
  • a scheduled period during which activity (as of a court or school) is suspended
  • a period of exemption from work granted to an employee
  • a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation

Clearly, as defined by Webster, vacation has to do with time away. Perhaps we really aren’t technically going on vacation anymore. What we are doing is going to vacation places and continuing to work. Does this mean our whole selves (work and life) are becoming more integrated and thus leading to lives over which we ultimately have more control? Or, are we creating lives where there are no longer boundaries that used to define our work and home life?

You Working on Vacation is Selfish

We saw dear friends last week that had been on “vacation.” The husband had to leave for a one-day business trip in the middle of their so-called vacation. My friend (the wife) was clearly irritated about this and said something to the effect of “I’m sick of this happening all the time.” I realized that for those who are doing the work on vacation they may think it’s helping them stay on top of things, have a more integrated life, etc. However - and yes I mean this as a “but sandwich” - for those not working while on vacation they are really being robbed of the joy of what used to be cherished time away from work (or some other regular activity) during which families are totally focused on being together or people are free of distractions to focus on non-work things that matter to them.

If you are in the company of someone “on vacation” who continues to jump on conference calls, check emails, quickly review documents or talk about work, it is no fun. I used to be the person in my relationship who most often violated the rules of what it means to be on vacation. My husband would point out that even when I wasn’t on one of those calls or checking emails, my mind was still engaged in work. I couldn’t fake my presence. While I may have been physically present I wasn’t present in any other sense of the word. My husband said he knew when my eyes moved rapidly I was thinking about work. I realized I didn’t want to be in the company of that “me” pretending to be on vacation. Now when I go on vacation, I go on vacation, Webster-style.

The No-Kidding Test for Whether You are REALLY Going on Vacation

The best test for whether you are really going on vacation is to see what your “out of office” message says (yes, I know some of you are saying that “out of office” messages are passé). My “out of office” message says: “I’ll be out of the office from x day to x day during which time I will not be checking email or voicemail. If you need assistance before I return, please contact so and so.” Guess what? The world has not come to an end because I went on a real vacation. What happens is other people step in and take care of things. It’s really not that complicated. Make yourself available and people will take you up on your offer to be available – vacation or not.

Thriving When Our Minds are Away From “It” All

The good news is there’s new evidence that our minds thrive while away from it all. Research conducted at the University of Kansas concludes that people from all walks of life show startling cognitive improvement — for instance, a 50 percent boost in creativity — after living for a few days steeped in nature.

Why not take a real vacation? Business will go on (yes, even without you), things will be OK. It’s easy. Simply put away your electronic wireless device du jour. Look up and watch for shooting stars, look out and glimpse the setting sun, remove whatever hands free device is in your ear and listen to the peepers and coyotes. Go be utterly and totally with the ones who love you.

With Thanksgiving in the rearview and Christmas and other winter holidays ahead, how will you make sure you’re truly on vacation?

(Image via Stanislav Komogorov/Shutterstock.com)

Sarah Agan is a regular contributor to Excellence in Government. She has spent the past 17 years working with clients across the federal government with a focus on helping individuals and organizations thrive.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.