Importance of taking a break

Winter break is now upon us (or quickly approaching for schools like mine, U of Illinois). How will you spend it? For graduate students, semester/quarter breaks are often not breaks at all. Many of us use this time to get as much research done as possible – getting ahead before the next semester starts, or catching up from things that you wanted to get done last semester (the latter is probably more likely). After a hectic semester, the break can provide a time free of interruptions by students, meetings, administrative tasks, etc,… just hours of your own research time (or, as I like to call it, “me-search”). Even though this may sound appealing for productivity, it’s important to not get too buried in your work and actually take a break! Several articles discuss why taking time off work is actually good for you, and can even boost your productivity!

http://www.usnews.com/science/articles/2011/08/17/the-benefits-of-taking-time-off

http://www.theledger.com/article/20090510/NEWS/905119986?tc=ar

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/timi-gustafson/vacation_b_1822904.html

The work culture in the US is certainly different than other places around the world. Our French colleagues, for example earn about 37 vacation days a year and use all but two of them. Americans, conversely, earn about 18 on average and take only 14. Even in academia, grad students and post-docs in France take 6-8 weeks of vacation per year… and they actually take it! This lifestyle seems so foreign to me. But, wouldn’t it be great to actually take a vacation without feelings of guilt that you should be working?

So, I encourage you to take a page from the European’s book and give yourself a break this holiday season. I will be giving myself 2 weeks of work free vacation starting Saturday. I must say, knowing that I have a break coming is giving me the extra drive to finish this last week of the semester strong. I’m confident that my productivity will be improved when I come back from vacation too. I’ll be sure to keep you posted! What are your winter plans?

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One thought on “Importance of taking a break

  1. Pingback: No Guilt |

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