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We Americans could use a good dose of lazy to be more productive and Financially Well!

It’s August, are you reading this while on vacation? In the US, between July and August, many Americans take a little time off. While it’s usually a week or so for most, we recently met with someone who was German. He was about to leave for the month of August to Germany and mentioned not to worry about emailing him–that he would be available in September. It struck me as odd, but then I recalled a French friend who had taken over 3 weeks off in a row during the summer for the past 2 years. I’m learning that this is truly a European way. 

When I asked our new German friend a bit more, I learned that even though he had been an American for several decades now, he had realized the true value both personally and professionally of taking a good dose of time to not only relax but to do some things that were more creative and outside of the realm of work.

So why do we Americans get a bit “shocked” at the news of a person taking an entire month off? According to Wikipedia, most countries around the world have labor laws that mandate employers give workers a certain number of paid time-off days per year. In the European Union the countries can freely set the maximum, but it has to be at least 20 days (not including national holidays).

  • Nearly all Canadian provinces require at least two weeks.
  • Full-time employment in Australia requires twenty annual leave days a year.
  • And how about France with a minimum of 25 days?!

It’s fairly easy to understand the American worker’s lack of rest when you learn that the US law does not require employers to grant any vacation or holidays, and about 25% of all employees receive no paid vacation time or paid holidays.

There you have it… vacation time is simply not the law in the US. So, you can understand that when it comes to work, being on time, not missing deadlines, being a team player, working overtime (and on the weekends if needed), is just what we do. And while on vacation, it’s typical for Americans to keep that cell phone ringer on and check or reply to emails, even though you’ve turned on the “out of office” reply.  Getting the work done is what we do at all costs. But, what does our lack of rest and true relaxation time really cost?

We all may know, as the Cleveland Clinic states, that if you continue to operate without enough sleep, you may see more long-term and serious health problems.  And how about productivity? Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, a senior consultant at Strategic Business Insights and a visiting scholar at Stanford University has written about getting more done when you work less. He says, “ To experience the kind of rest that fuels creativity and productivity, we need to detach from work.”

He writes,

“Discoveries in sleep research, psychology, neuroscience, organizational behavior, sports medicine, sociology and other fields have given us a wealth of insight into the unsung but critical role that rest plays in strengthening the brain, enhancing learning, enabling inspiration, and making innovation sustainable.”

Being personally and financially well is something many Americans struggle with these days. If the research of the Cleveland Clinic and Alex Soojung-Kim Pang is right, we all need to find ways–even in the midst of our busy day–to boost our creativity by relaxing, resting, and/or doing something that takes our mind and maybe even our body completely away from our work so that when we go back to it, we are more refreshed, productive and creative…something we believe can also directly impact your financial well-being. With that, I’ll finish this “creative outlet” and get back to work.

Authors of The Lenity Journal, Lisa and Mark Bova have focused their financial services practice on assisting their clients with financial sustainability and assigning deeper meaning to their legacy. One of the pages of their journal, The Creativity Booster, was created with the idea that we all need time-off to be more productive and creative while at work, leading to greater financial sustainability. The page can be downloaded for FREE at lenityfinancial.com/Journal