By Laura Jones
At this time of year I am prone to flashes of dread. It happens every time I hear a back-to-school ad. The flashes have a long half-life too and get more intense the closer we get to Labour Day. But this year, I'm going to try taking a page from my nephew's book. He is starting university this fall. When I asked him how he felt about it, he shrugged and said there was no point worrying about it now. It's a big change and he'll deal with it when it comes in September.
How many Augusts have we all spent dreading Septembers only to be reminded when the dreaded Septembers come that they are not actually that bad? Going back to school or getting back to business has a great upside.
I'm not going to oversell this idea. It is true the spontaneity of summer gets replaced with routine, sometimes hectic routines. It's also true that the price of a good vacation is sometimes a very large pile of "to-dos" on our desk that have the feeling of back-to-school homework. And the period between September and December can be very busy, even a little crazy.
But if we have been lucky, we have the wind of a good vacation in our sails, giving us new perspective, creativity and energy.
In 2006, the accounting firm Ernst & Young did an internal study of its employees and found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation that employees took, their yearend performance ratings from supervisors improved eight per cent. Those who take regular vacations were also significantly less likely to leave the firm.
According to clinical psychologists, the value of vacations on our mental health is profound.
Not taking vacations increases mistakes and resentment of co-workers while taking vacations increases motivation and perspective. A Harris/Decima poll from 2009 finds that almost half of Canadians don't take all of their vacation. I suspect that many small-business owners and their staff are in this category. In fact, more than a few business owners have called the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for advice on how to get staff to take vacations. Others struggle to take a vacation during the summer as they juggle staff holidays.
Given the undisputed value of a vacation, instead of struggling with the end-of-summer blues why not embrace the end of summer? Why not take a few more days off knowing fully that whatever the fall may bring, a good holiday is never a bad thing. Give the plum of life a good squeeze.
Make it a great vacation by parking September dread. September has its own special creative, productive energy. But as my nephew advises, deal with it when it comes.
Laura Jones is the executive vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.