Twentysomething: When working on vacation isn’t work


By Ryan Healy – Vacation days are a benefit. We are allowed 10 or 15 days of vacation per year so we can completely relax and forget about work. I have full intentions of forgetting about my job for the six days I am in California. I might check my e-mail once or twice, and I am available by cell phone, but unless there is an extreme emergency I have no plans of working. Vacation is great, I’m relaxed, I’m enjoying my family, and I don’t have to deal with that pesky thing called work.

However, right now I am sitting in an ice cream shop in Napa Valley, California. I am using six of my precious vacation days. And what do you know? I am writing a column. I do not separate writing, networking or designing my website from working. I am doing all of this for my career, and therefore it is all considered work. However, since landing in Oakland four days ago, I have spent at least one to two hours a day doing some type of work. In fact, my partner Ryan Paugh and I actually launched the brand new version of Employee Evolution. The funny thing is, I am completely, 100% relaxed and I wouldn’t want my vacation to be any other way.

My brother, Dan, runs, an online food ordering business at Ohio State University. As I write this, he is sitting directly across from me on his laptop emailing restaurant and bar owners, setting up meetings to talk about advertising and tracking his website statistics for use in his sales pitches. He has already taken three or four business calls and has spoken with his partner once a day. He also wouldn’t have it any other way.

Does this mean that we are not actually on vacation? Or does this mean that his business and my website aren’t actually work?

The way I look at it, they are both definitely considered work, and we are both definitely on vacation. Spending an hour or two per day doing a little work on vacation is just fine in my book. I completely understand why people want to escape their jobs and not even worry about it on vacation. However, if you need to run and hide for a week at a time, it can only mean one of two things. You either dislike your job or you work way too hard.

The problem with having an arbitrary ten or fifteen days of vacation where you can escape from your cubicle is that it implies we need to completely escape to stay sane. I don’t know about you guys, but if I need to pretend that work doesn’t exist when I am on vacation, then I am in the wrong line of work.

The Motley Fool has created a solution to this whole problem. Employees at “the fool” do not have any vacation days, but they certainly take vacations like the rest of us. There should be no such thing as vacation days. By telling employees they are allowed fifteen days off from work a year, you are in effect telling them that they will need to escape the daily grind. With new technologies and telecommuting being more and more common, “vacation days” will ultimately be a thing of the past. But I can guarantee you; I will still take plenty of vacations

Obviously, companies like the Motley Fool must put an extraordinary amount of trust in their employees, but we are all adults. How many grown people do you know who would completely blow off a deliverable because they want to go on vacation and ignore work for a few days? If employees feel trusted, they will trust the company which will in turn increase worker morale and output. It’s a win-win situation.

Ryan Healy’s blog is Employee Evolution.

48 replies
  1. Devin
    Devin says:

    Interestingly enough most of my peers (recent graduates) almost compare each other’s number of vacations days.

    Perhaps we’ve found the wrong jobs? Perhaps there are no companies worth getting excited over? Or maybe we are certain that no matter how hard we try, anywhere we go to work will be a ‘daily grind’.

    Just thinking out loud…

  2. Liz
    Liz says:

    I wouldn’t like to see your prediction come true but maybe it is a generational difference? I have really enjoyed camping vacations, vacations in remote places with no technology available, vacations in foreign countries where I have been able to make seeing the country a priority rather than trying to check in with the office. If the technology is easily available where I am, I may not mind checking in occasionally, but it is nice to have the freedom not to (two weeks is not really that long). Ironically I tend to think the reverse of what you wrote–in most jobs, no one should be so irreplaceable that it be a burden for her to be gone for two weeks.
    My husband has just received a postdoctoral fellowship where he gets no weeks of vacation (with the assumption being like in Motley Fool that he will take time off). I dislike it because we may want to have children while he is doing the postdoc, and I feel like this lets him know that there is no flexibility if he wants to take some time off for paternity leave. The burden will be on me alone to find the flexibility.
    Enjoy your blended vacation!

  3. Ryan
    Ryan says:

    Hi Ryan,

    Interesting article. I like your take on this issue, but I have to admit that I am more with Liz on this. As a guy that likes to take vacations in exotic locations where I likely won’t have access to the Internet for several days, working daily remotely for a few hours probably isn’t going to work for me. As Liz said, “in most jobs, no one should be so irreplaceable that it be a burden for her to be gone for two weeks.” I completely agree with that. There are definitely situations where this isn’t the case. For example, your site and your brother’s business probably are irreplaceable during the week you are on vacation, so your situation requires that you work a few hours a day while you are on vacation. Since this is your passion and these are your babies, no problem. But, for someone working for a Fortune 500 company, I think the colleagues can handle someone’s absence for a week or two.

    However, I totally agree with what I believe is the primary point of your article: if you aren’t at least willing to think about work while you are on vacation, you probably need to find a new job that you feel passion about. It isn’t quite that easy of course, as I am of the belief that the “perfect” job isn’t out there for everyone, and sometimes you just have to settle for a job that you simply can tolerate as long as you are passionate about the rest of your live.



    Good point, there are definitely vacations where access is limited or even prohibited.  In this case all you can do is check in with your partner or colleague every once in a while, and hope that all is going well.  But, like you said, if you do not even want to think about work on vacation, then you are probably in the wrong line of work.


  4. Cyndi
    Cyndi says:

    “Obviously, companies like the Motley Fool must put an extraordinary amount of trust in their employees, but we are all adults.” The employees must also trust the company. Even without a quota of vacation days, people must plan ahead. If I have travel planned, I work ahead and around it, and my coworkers do too. However, if a “deliverable” arrives the day before I leave, I am not likely to accept it.

    This is related to the concept of flexible hours. The company and the employees must have a shared understanding of what is a “reasonable” amount of work for the employee to accomplish. No defined vacation time implies “as long as you get your work done then your time is your own.” If the work is predictable and defined, that’s possible. Unfortunately, not all work is predictable and defined, or even bounded.

    I am happy to see this works for some companies. I have friends who started a company, and I’ve seen them “work” on vacation. I just don’t live in that world yet.

  5. Jacqui
    Jacqui says:

    I don’t think the issue here is about an employee being irreplaceable. I know my office would be just fine if I left for a few weeks.

    The point is that people might feel better about their jobs, be more engaged and more productive in their jobs if they felt they had some freedom. If they could work hard to play hard (a millennial mantra).

    For example, several people in my office were expecting the office to close early today, the day before a midweek holiday, as it has in years past. But it’s not. They worked hard to get loose ends tied up to leave early today, and now that they don’t have that freedom, they’re a bit jaded. How much work do you think will get done today while those people are busy feeling used by the company?

    If they had the freedom to work hard to free up some extra time, it wouldn’t be an issue.

    CNN ran a story this morning that says unexpected employee absenses cost companies ridiculous amounts of money over a year, but giving the employees some time to detox their minds makes them feel more engaged in their jobs because it seems that the company really cares about them.

  6. Emily
    Emily says:

    Working on my own for the past year and a half, I have had a fair number of “working vacations,” mostly to be able to spend time with family. A few drawbacks: (1) As noted above, internet access is hardly ubiquitous. (2) Family members can get annoyed, even hostile, when you’re checking your email a few times a day. (3) Staying connected to work is one thing, but true productivity in a beautiful setting, with lots of family around, is difficult, and you may not be able to meet your own – or others’ – expectations.

  7. Pirate Jo
    Pirate Jo says:

    “They worked hard to get loose ends tied up to leave early today, and now that they don't have that freedom, they're a bit jaded. How much work do you think will get done today while those people are busy feeling used by the company?”

    Another good question might be, How much work NEEDS to get done today, since everyone ramped up their efforts ahead of time? It is just silly to force people to sit in cubicles when they don’t need to. It’s an old-school approach that really builds resentment, because it is essentially rooted in a lack of trust – not treating people like responsible adults.

  8. Amy Vachon
    Amy Vachon says:

    I agree with your philosophy that if we like our jobs we shouldn’t need to escape from them. I look at vacations as a way to mix up life a bit – see something new, have an adventure, just hang out. If we aren’t using them as a reset button or an escape from drudgery/overwork, we are probably leading a well balanced life. Live as if you never “need” a vacation!

    On the other hand, no one aspect of life should be so important that it can’t be let go for a short time to make room for something extraordinary. I wouldn’t want to feel connected to a job, or anything else, to the point where I was unable to break off completely for a few days. What were you missing when you were clicking away on your laptop in the ice cream shop? Maybe nothing…maybe some special connection time with your brother, a child, a partner…no judgments here, since I wasn’t there to know, but just a caution if it applies.

    Keep up the good work/fun combo!

  9. John Wesley
    John Wesley says:

    The more you love your job, the blurrier the line between fun and work. Congrats on the new EE design, it looks very professional. But I wonder, maybe working on the site is still enjoyable because it isn’t your main income source? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    With my site, the more I pressure myself to make money with it, the more of a burden it becomes.



    That is a very interesting point.  Honestly I cannot know how I would feel if the site was my main source of income, because as of now it is not.  However, I would hope that I still enjoy what I am doing and I am having fun, even if it causes a little stress.  If the site ever gets to the point where it is not enjoyable then it is time for me to change my approach or get out.


  10. christin
    christin says:

    This is definitely a post I can speak out and agree with, as a 20-something, and as a corporate employee. (meaning: not working for myself. my office isn’t really the ‘corporate norm’ but it’s still an office.) I think a few of the points here that made me go “Yeah, absolutely!” are:

    1) that work is something you need to ‘escape’ – resulting in anger when you have to do something work-related on vacation,

    2) that checking email or making a phone call for work will completely disrupt your vacation (doesn’t everyone check their email all the time anyway? I check mine, even on weekends…and I can assure it disturbs no one – rather, I’d be MORE disturbed if I couldn’t check it!)

    3) what constitutes “work”.

    Definitely some good stuff to mull over this holiday week.

  11. Fox
    Fox says:


    I appreciate your perspective on the concerns, issues, and insights of our generation. I tend to agree with you on the focus of your mesaage–work should be consistent with what one loves, and is inspired to do.

    But, I would disagree with your willingness to cede your “time off” by not maximizing your fun/recreatoinal activities. If you were simply sitting in a coffee shop, surfing the net (being “productive or not), and that comprised your time off, I’d say, “Weak!”

    I’d learn to do something physically, intellectually stimulating, say, anything with an action/adventure component. The problem with the copious time in front of the computer is not that we don’t like computers, its that time is scarce, and “time off” is best maximized with some kind of real adventure, where one can be stimulated beyond the keyboard. Snowboard! Surf! Bike ride! Rock climb! Get off your duff during your free time! Are you alive or living?


    Agreed, if I was sitting in the ice cream shop for hours surfing the internet while on vacation then I would be wasting this trip.  I spent about one hour on the internet completing a few important things.  The rest of my day was well spent, hiking, swimming and wine tasting with my family.  You can do it all, and still have fun.


  12. Terry
    Terry says:


    I don’t see me lugging around a laptop when I was back packing and dune bugging around the Greek Islands, sailing to St Bart’s or at a Swedish lingerie show.

    Writing on post cards in a cafe was a joy.

    As long as my clients are supported back home and understand my needs.

    Try reading about Ricardo Semlers vacations in – Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace




    It’s really interesting you bring up Ricardo Semlar.  I just read his follow up to Maverick, “The 7 Day Weekend,” on my flight over here.  I actually got a lot of inspiration about working on vacation and vacationing during the week from his book.  From what I gather, his company’s policy is that there is no monday through friday work week and a vacation when one needs it is completely acceptable.  His company policies are so in line with my views that it almost scared me. Semlar’s company should more or less be the blueprint for the future of corporate America.


  13. Marcia
    Marcia says:

    Some very good points, but I think much depends on the nature of your work. If you are a brain surgeon/construction worker/nurse/etc., you probably won’t be blending work/vacation. I HAVE to be physically present at my job. Telecommuting is not an option. So, there is a huge dichotomy between my work/personal life. I am either at work or I’m not. Because I’m very engaged my personal life, work rarely enters my mind. Because my work was intense, I didn’t have time to think about anything else. My position in the company changed 2 years ago, and I’m not as happy at work as I was…and now I find myself thinking of my personal life at work, and thinking of work on my time off…interesting. I’m looking for a different position where I can return to my previous work/personal life split. I miss that intense engagement in each.

  14. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    “If employees feel trusted, they will trust the company which will in turn increase worker morale and output.”

    That is exactly right. I work for a nonprofit and there are many times when the weather has been too nice for me to want to come into the office. I simply call or email my boss and tell him that I am planning to work outside at my favorite coffeeshop. He tells me, "Okay, just have the coffee guy sign your time card." We both laugh and I enjoy my day. If you've proven yourself and have built a mutual respect between you and your boss then this isn't an issue.

    Because of this arrangement I have to work remotely, I don't feel the need to take a "real vacation" as often since I am more energized by my day to day.

  15. David Harper
    David Harper says:

    “However, if you need to run and hide for a week at a time, it can only mean one of two things. You either dislike your job or you work way too hard.”

    The other possibility: you are trying to build a company, which requires long hours and lots of stress. You need a break

    You wrote a blog entry on your vacation. Do you want a cookie?

    This attitude, reflective of the new young American ethos, is fine for corporate. You deserve work/life balance and you shall have it…

    but i am not convinced you can speak to startup life. I think I’ll take Marc Andreesen’s advice, and more importantly, the attitude:

    In other words, good for you at the ice cream shop, now haul your arse back to headquarters and start taking out the trash.

    I am skeptical of this “I deserve to have it all now” attitude. One common thing i hear successful people say, often, what John Paul Mitchell said, they do what other people are not willing to do.

    I like some of this new age rhetoric, I really do, but where did you get this idea that you deserve to have it all now (success, vacations, fun work – do you want money and fame, too)? Please write next time about failure, sucking it up, working until your back ached and your fingers hurt and you were exhausted but you still do it because you believe in something larger than yourself. And the cash flow is low, and the you are scared to your freaking mind, and you’ve ignored your friends. That’s my problem with you youngsters, it’s all about you. Please ryan next time write about something hard, inspire me


    I deserve whatever I get from my hard work, whenever it comes.

  16. Greg
    Greg says:

    Reflection is one of the great benefits of vacation.

    I always loved and respected Lee Iacocca for his no-apology stance of his annual two-week vacation, even while running Chrysler (and his distain of peers who did not).

    One note about PTO, in many companies the unused portion is payable upon termination of employment. This is one way of keeping a few weeks of severance pay in pocket.

  17. wayne
    wayne says:

    Can you imagine if gen y had to rebuild the country? There would be a lot of great ideas and initiatives, and no one to carry the heavy boxes. After all, if you don’t like what you’re doing, do something else. Not suck it up, not do what you have to do, just quit. Move back in with mommy and daddy (who sucked it up) and do what you like. I’m gen x like Pirate Jo, and I remember the McJobs. Did anyone like them? No. Should we have not worked? After all, it was that or NOTHING. There are some jobs that MUST be done for things to run smoothly, and they are jobs that NOBODY likes. If everyone had the Gen Y mentality, some necessary jobs would never get done. What will you do if you have a family to support and you suddenly aren’t happy with your job anymore? Being able to mooch off of mommy and daddy isn’t really an accomplishment to be proud of.

  18. Brian Johnson
    Brian Johnson says:

    I run a small non-profit (~25 employees) and employ the approach of “take time off when you need it”. I literally do not keep track of who takes days off or how many. There is a general expectation that we will get done what we need to and I’ve hired people I trust to deliver. I am curious, though, how this can be managed in today’s hyper-regulated employee-rights environment in a larger company. I’ve had several consultants advise me that our “system” could be problematic, legally, if an employee got dissatisfied and wanted to make my life miserable. I’d love to see more info about how this setup is delivered in a larger corporate environment, perhaps like at Motley.

    In terms of the vacationing/working discussion, I just got back from 3 days in Wisconsin’s north woods with extended family, swimming in the lake, and no email access. Love my job, but wouldn’t trade the simple pleasures for anything in the world. As I get older (I’m 33) I’m finding much more fulfillment from the simple things like watching my 5 year old learn to swim without a life jacket than I would have ever dreamed. And more fulfilling than any work accomplishments. And no one’s more professionally driven to change the world than me.

    Of course I did check my voicemail on the drive home and got caught up on email (and Brazen Careerist) before going to sleep last night. I think there’s something to be said for the ebb and flow of life and our individuality. One size rarely fits all.


    Again, thanks for the input.  Like I have said before I can only write about my thoughts and experiences at 23.  Take it for what it’s worth.  However, in a few years I am sure you can be connected to some type of device that is quick and easy to use wherever you are.  Thanks for the input.


  19. OHK
    OHK says:

    No matter how passionate I am or ever become about my work, I can’t imagine never taking a break from it. I’m a writer and editor, and as much as I love working with words, forming stories, and working with other writers, I love when I can take a week off from all of it (and wish I could take more). I return recharged and often full of ideas (even though I wasn’t trying to come up with them). This doesn’t mean that I don’t like what I do at work; it means that what I do at work doesn’t solely define me. To me, this speaks to the dangers of ever-present technology. We’re so tuned in, that we don’t know how to tune out. Extended time without e-mail, Internet, text-messaging, cell phones, faxes, YouTube, My Space, HBO, etc. makes me a better thinker and a more effective doer.

    And I’m a twentysomething, so I don’t think this is necessarily a generational issue.

  20. Mandelin
    Mandelin says:

    Sure working on a vacation is fine for city kids. I seriously doubt that you would feel the same if you took a vacation in a cabin way off in the woods, or fishing and camping in a remote lake. The thing about a vacation is that it is not just running away from work it is an oppertunty to do new things and let your brain take a break from the usual. If you are doing the same thing you would do in your regular life you have just taken time out of the office not a vacation. Use the vacation time for something special, and work something out to telecommute.

  21. Alan
    Alan says:

    Question: If you work during your vacation, does your company credit the time you spent working back to your vacation balance?

    Vacation mean exactly that, vacate from your job. When I’ve been on vacation, I’ve NEVER had the urge to “check-in” the office or even THINK about work. I hope Ryan’s view of “vacation” is just limited to him and his friends and isn’t trying to change society’s view of what vacation is.

    I think those who have to compulsively check their email, voicemail, etc. have issues of attachment and/or addiction to those gadgets and have little to do with work itself. They feel weird not being engaged to those gadgets all the time.

    Oh, and I don’t hate my job.

  22. Terry
    Terry says:


    In Ricardo Semlar’s first book he gets away from the office completely during vacations.

    Each to his own.



  23. Terry
    Terry says:


    You and me are on the same page about Ricardo’s philosophy. That is the blueprint for my own.

    Best Always


  24. M Moore
    M Moore says:

    My company actually does the opposite and does NOT allow associates to carry vacation hours from year to year. They believe that associates work hard, therefore should play hard. End of disucssion. I think there’s something to that.

    They also offer a highly coveted 8-week paid sabbatical on top of vacation after 8 years of service. Our average length of employment is 16 years. They must be doing something right.

    Studies have shown that people who are truly disconnected from their work while on vacation come back more energized.

    Come on, most of us are not brain surgeons; others’ lives aren’t at stake if we take a vacation without checking email.

  25. Victoria
    Victoria says:

    As a working mother, I say leave work at work.

    I can’t think of a greater gift than to dedicate 100% of my hard-earned time off to my kids and husband. I owe it to them to be with them, not my laptop or Treo.

  26. lili
    lili says:

    It works both ways.

    Some people at my work are horrified that I check my personal email or my facebook or watch the occasional YouTube video at work. But I check my emails at home, read articles and journals that are necessary for my job etc.

    I don’t think Ryan was implying that you spend ALL of your holidays ALL the time connected to work. If you want to go camping and not see another human for a week, then go right ahead. But when I’m at home, online, and I’m interested in knowing how that project went or what’s happening in this area, then I’ll check. Because I love doing what I do.

  27. Alan
    Alan says:

    I agree that if we like our job and enjoy going to work everyday, it would be fine to do a little bit of work during our vacation. As long as we don’t feel the pressure of work, I think there’s nothing wrong with it.

  28. Dane
    Dane says:

    I think you should start your own company and create the environment that you demand from the business world. Why don’t you do it now?

  29. D'gou
    D'gou says:

    It isn’t about whether you love or hate your job, I think it is more about whether you need to change the focus of your thinking. When you fight fires (even for an hour a day), you can’t get away long enough to have the really far ranging thoughts that might bring you to completely redefine your career. IMHE anyways.

  30. Cathy Mosca
    Cathy Mosca says:

    I find a change of scenery with work along is all the vacation I need. Putting myself out of touch with work just causes a backlog, and clearing up the backlog makes the vacation week a distant, unreal memory. Why would I choose that when I can take my laptop and keep up with the most pressing work (an hour or two a day is all it takes) from anywhere in the world? That way I can stay two weeks, instead.

  31. Hope
    Hope says:

    I think some of this IS generational, and most of it is learned behavior. I agree with all who say detaching from the job is necessary to recharge the brain. My experience is twofold: 1) It takes about three days to really stop thinking about work (i.e. in a dead zone where you can’t check your Blackberry every hour). 2) No one is irreplaceable. If you got hit by a bus tomorrow, someone else would step in.
    Finally, we would all be better off if the pace of the workplace allowed some introspective thought.

  32. Helen
    Helen says:

    For me, a little thought about work will ruin my vacation. Since vacation means we are doing something else for fun, it would be a disturbance to think about work..
    If we are doing even a little work on our vacation, it means that we are not enjoying it.

  33. MG
    MG says:

    Wherever you are, be there.

    All small business owners and corporate robots would benefit from “taking a week off to try and recall the whole year” to paraphrase Jimmy Buffett.

    Even Marc Andreesen . . .

  34. Amy
    Amy says:

    I think it is truly inspirational that you have such passion for your work. I know when I’m “away from my desk”, I constantly think about article ideas and ways to counsel and support clients. However, I need the sanctuary of my office in order to work effectively. I would love to work from my local Panera, but I just can’t do it. So next week, while I’m on vacation, I will take a break from any visible work while I enjoy my family and the beautiful New Jersey sunshine.

  35. anna
    anna says:

    I have a flexible schedule (11-7 3 days a week) and I write constantly for various sites. I’ve also been involved in the internet since its inception (by Al Gore! haha). I disagree with your point, though. While it is hard to justify and take vacation when you love your job, I think it’s vital to well-being. There’s a point 2 weeks into my vacation when I can sit at a cafe, and watch people, and not try to occupy myself with a book or a computer or a phone. I liek the earlier comment regarding family, too. Too much we get in a kind of compulsive digital grind (enjoyable, but like a rat in a maze), and despite how rewarding and important, we need to step back and slow down and enjoy our friends and family on a personal level. Or, discover other paces of life, settings, cultures, etc. I come back from these vacations so rejuvenated and carefree, despite a realy enjoyable carefree life, and make it even better.

  36. MCW
    MCW says:

    Well, I can see multiple sides to it.

    My husband and I have two classes of vacation: 1) the doing-an-hour-of-work-here-and-there, call-me-if-necessary vacation, and 2) the totally-unavailable, dark-side-of-the-moon vacation. Given the nature of our work, 2) is pretty rare. But even 1) is way better than no vacation at all.

    That said – I do think it’s valuable every once and awhile to take a block of time and get your head completely out of work. Maybe this is really only necessary for some people after some years at their job, whereas some people may need it every year.

    I know I’ve heard some people say, and have felt it myself, that when you *really* need a break, even a week is too short. It takes a few days to really detox your brain, and the last 1-2 days you’re already thinking about coming back.

    Meanwhile, travel industry data says that vacations in the US are getting shorter and shorter. Two weeks in the summer (camping, road trips) used to be fairly common; now they’re rare. One week is becoming rare; the most common vacations now are the 2-4 day long weekend variety.

    I’ve even read how some national parks have fewer visitors now, and there’s speculation that many people feel unable to take a full week of vacation, which is discouraging them from traveling to more remote locations. They simply don’t have time to travel to get there.

  37. Fran
    Fran says:

    I think it’s not a big deal to do a little work during vacation. As long as you are enjoying it, theres nothing wrong about it. I think it also depends on how a person wants to spend his/her time during vacation.

  38. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    I don’t wish to offend anybody but I think it’s absolutely disgraceful that the United States does not have a legal minimum for vacation days like almost every other country on earth.

    Australia and Britain have a minimum for four weeks (20 days) stipulated by law. In Europe it’s usually six weeks.

    Vacation time is terribly important for personal sanity, for family happiness, for many, many reasons. But it can sometimes be hard to fit around work commitments and if you don’t HAVE to take it, the temptation is not to. You’ll take some of course, but nowhere near enough.

    In Britain they make you take all of your holiday entitlement in the year you earn it, so people take it. In Australia, it rolls over to the following year so quite often senior people who are quite indispensable to a company don’t take all of it and wind up with a huge backlog owed to them. The higher up the food chain you are, the more difficult it is to take a holiday.

    Minimum vacation time is not about big government getting in the way of private enterprise. Americans accept that the government will set rules on the minimum wage (even though it’s low, it still exists), the minimum working age (no child labour), health and safety, discrimination, all manner of things deemed to be important. Vacation time should be up there with the rest of them.

    I work for myself so I understand what Ryan is saying when he talks about the blurring of work and personal time. I’m quite happy working on the weekend for myself (though I would be less happy doing so for an employer). It’s my choice and if I want to skive off mid week to make up for it I can. But even though I work for myself and love what I do, I do like to sometimes get away from it all. Some of my holidays might involve some low-level checking of email and so on, others will be in a wilderness area truly escaping city life.

  39. Adam
    Adam says:

    I have to disagree with this entirely. While I completely get the “do what you have passion for” and have myself found many vacations where I actually wanted to be working – I just don’t think this is healthy or good in the long rung. Allow me to expand.

    There is a basic need to put work stuff down and disconnect – Clear your head entirely – And I just don’t buy the idea that “an hour of two a day” while on vacation can really accomplish that. I know you said that you wanted to do this, but workaholics always want to work. Let’s dig deeper.

    A TRUE relaxation can take many continuous days to develop. With each passing day of vacation, or complete lack of responsibility, new feelings arise. This is not a process that can be forced or interrupted. Even the idea that an email might come that needs attention or that the cell phone could ring is disruptive.

    I understand that companies like The Fool have pulled this off. But a few counterpoints on that too. First, the Fool is a small organization (compared to the corporate giants) with an entirely unique culture that is hard to replicate. I would make a large bet that once they had 10,000 employees that this policy would be gone. Second, when a company like the Fool hits harder times and the commitment of their employees is really tested due to salary reductions, layoffs or worse, this policy will also be difficult.

    Again. I totally buy the idea of doing what you love. The true route to success comes from following your passions. And wanting to do work on your vacation can be sign that you love what you do, which is generally positive. But I would argue that you should fight the urge to stay connected on your vacation as much as you might want to. True relaxation, on a seriously deep level, will take many continuous days of no email, no thoughts about work, no cell phone that could ring at any moment. In fact, I think that if you do this two or three times a year you will find yourself more balanced, creative and energetic when you do get back to work than if you don’t. You will actually do a better job and approach your work with more perspective having found some healthy distance from it a few times a year.

  40. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Hi Ryan,

    I like your points and agree completely. I want a weisure like job/lifestyle because I just can’t stand to escape any part of myself. I want to be myself all the time and enjoy all my moments as much as possible. That means having work and life be seamless transitions that sometimes blur.

    Most my jobs have been the can’t bear to think about it type when on vacation, and I’ve always hated that I feel that way about work.

    In the end, I think to truly love what you do, you have to be an entrepreneur – not even full time. Being in control of your own freedom and finances is what I am looking for.


  41. Jonha
    Jonha says:

    “However, if you need to run and hide for a week at a time, it can only mean one of two things. You either dislike your job or you work way too hard.” Spot on Ryan! Perhaps people who spend more time doing what you’re doing and enjoying what you just enjoyed are those that are working online or with web business,wherein you can take wherever you go, you don’t have to be physically present in every transactions or meeting. I don’t mind that either. It’s what makes the web such a great world, sometimes.

  42. ipad 3
    ipad 3 says:

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  43. Charity Kountz
    Charity Kountz says:

    It’s funny – for me, anytime I spend more than about 3 days not doing “work”, I start to go just a little stir crazy. In essence I’m bored and my “work” which consists of marketing, online and off, social networking, and writing feels more like 24/7 playtime than work. Unless of course it’s something I don’t want to do. Like clean the bathroom. *shudders* Or clean anything at all really. Now that’s work. And I would absolutely love a vacation from that, but do I need to leave my house to get it? :)

  44. Dressing
    Dressing says:

    totally agree with what I believe is the primary point of your article: if you aren’t at least willing to think about work while you are on vacation, you probably need to find a new job that you feel passion about. It isn’t quite that easy of course, as I am of the belief that the “perfect” job isn’t out there for everyone, and sometimes you just have to settle for a job that you simply can tolerate as long as you are passionate about the rest of your live.

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  1. Recruiting says:

    Gen Y Spokesman…

    Goes Completely Off Rocker. “There should be no such thing as vacation days. By telling employees they are allowed fifteen days off from work a year, you are in effect telling them that they will need to escape the daily grind. With new technologies a…

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