This past week, the students were on spring break so I didn’t make my usual Tuesday morning journey to Syracuse. As I myself was also away the week prior, when the clock struck noon on Tuesday, I found my mind drifting to the classroom and reminded myself just how important vacation time is.
Today, the world is more digital and connected than ever before. Anywhere you go people are deeply engrossed in whatever is happening on their phones and tablets.
This trend of being attached to our cell phones has also trickled into the work place, with people carrying their laptops everywhere and checking their emails nonstop. A new study by PAN client, FewClix, shows that, on average, Americans spend more time on email than in face-to-face meetings. The study showed that the amount of time we spend each day on email is comparable to amount of time we take to eat each day.
Admittedly, it is hard to disconnect from work, especially when it would only take two minutes to look through emails while waiting in the security line at the airport. When I was on vacation two weeks ago, I tried my best to limit myself to only checking emails in the morning, but still, I didn’t totally disconnect.
Disconnecting from emails and taking time off from work is difficult for most people, regardless of title, experience or age. Sometimes it seems as though there is never a good time to take a break, but whether you are a second semester senior at Syracuse or a vice president at a PR firm in Boston, you must take time for yourself.
Time away from the office or campus allows you to hit the refresh button and recharge your battery. If you choose to travel during your time off, it allows you an opportunity to try new things and see the world through a different lens. If you elect to do a “stay-cation,” it’s a chance to renew your energy and focus by catching up on sleep, reading that book that’s been sitting on your nightstand and grabbing dinner with an old friend.
Overworking is not only detrimental to yourself, but also to your team members and your clients. As the President of PAN, I work to create an atmosphere that encourages my staff members to take time off. I work closely with my executive team to ensure team members aren’t plowing through, going six months with no time off. David Morken, co-founder and CEO of Bandwidth, another client of ours here at PAN, feels so strongly about his employees disconnecting from work that he made it a company-wide policy that vacationing employees refrain from checking their emails at all, thus encouraging his staff to unplug during their leisure time.
Next week, I look forward to hearing stories from my students about spring break and also sharing some with them from my recent trip, but I’m also going to spend some time addressing this topic. When they enter the workforce after graduation, requesting time off as a new employee can be intimidating. But as my students are of the generation who are most connected to their phones, I want to impress upon them the connection between taking time off and being successful.
This blog post is part of larger series, ‘Cuse Chronicles by a CEO, from PAN President & Founder, Philip A. Nardone, Jr., as he chronicles his experience teaching two capstones classes at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications.