Saturday, May 29, 2010

On Taking Vacations

I am not convinced that we need vacations, at least not the way we take them. We want a week of vacation whenever we can get it, and those in school tend to get three or more months of vacation for summer. As a college student, I'll be the first to admit that my brain needs a break now and then, but I must also mention that I get sick of lazing around as well. I need to work. People are built for work. But, people are not built for seven days a week of work.

One of the reasons we crave a week (or two or twelve) of vacation now and then is probably because we tend to work seven days a week. I don't mean truly working seven full days, of course. What we do is take five days for work, procrastinate or otherwise be inefficient through those five days, and make up for it with the two days we have for the weekend. It causes guilt, stress, extra work, and poorly done work due to rush jobs and lack of focus. I do it, other students do it, folks in the working world do it. We shouldn't.

I think instead we are made for six days of work and one day of rest. This makes sense, after all, in keeping with the Bible, but it also makes sense for anyone who gives it a proper try. What if you worked for six days, with effort and efficiency and focus instead of procrastination, so that every night you felt tired but satisfied with yourself as your head hit the pillow? And then, what if you took a real break on Sunday (or a different chosen day of the week), keeping the entire day for rest and worship and all that? That's the sort of cycle we are built to take, not an exhausting seven days of pseudo-working and pseudo-resting.

Give it a try for a few weeks. For six days, give your work everything you can. On the seventh day, read a book, go swimming, play outside, sleep extra, or anything else--but don't do any work at all. Don't touch it. Don't even read your e-mail. Let me know how it goes. We'd be more productive, and happier, with a schedule like this.

Don't get me wrong; I do appreciate the occasional long weekend or week of vacation, but they are best enjoyed very occasionally.

As for the three months of summer vacation, do I even need to mention eastern cultures who school year-round? But that's a discussion for another time (or another person...check out the chapter in Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, entitled "Rice Paddies and Math Tests").

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