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PRODUCTIVITY

7 Reasons You Might as Well Take August Off

From protecting your health to developing your staff, here are seven reasons to get yourself out of the office this month. Including sharks.

If April is the cruelest month, August is the slowest. Though this is hardly France, where the entire country pretty much shuts down for a month each summer, there's no denying that the summer doldrums have hit. That makes it hard to avoid a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mentality. If you're on the fence about taking some extra vacation time this summer, here are seven reasons that might get you away from that laptop and onto the beach (or, at least, on the beach with a laptop, which is some progress).

Your health. There is plenty of evidence that vacations reduce stress levels and increase well being. A study of 13,000 men at risk for heart disease found that skipping vacation for even one year elevated one's risk of having a heart attack. Passing up vacations for five years--and we often hear entrepreneurs humblebrag about doing just this--was associated with a whopping 30 percent increase in heart disease.

A study of 1,500 women found that those who took two or more vacations a year were less likely to become tense, depressed, or tired than those who took vacations only once every other year.

Unfortunately, it's the people who are healthiest to begin with--those who exercise and don't smoke--who are mostly likely to take vacations. Time for the rest of us to join in.

Because your kids are, which is kind of a problem. The end of August is a working parent's nightmare. The majority of camps run only through midmonth, leaving families to fend for themselves until school starts. If classes in your school district don’t start up again until after Labor Day, and you haven't already come up with a Plan B, the second half of the month is pretty much a bust anyway. Might as well hit the beach.

"Aha" moments. An extended time away from the business can help you rejuvenate and enable you to see things in a new way when you do return. Some interesting science shows that a "quiet" mind--one that isn't thinking about the minutiae of everyday life--is most likely to generate the "aha" moments that help us solve up to 60 percent of the knottiest problems. The key is not to squander that brief period of time when you're back home but still in a vacation mindset. Use that first day back at work to tackle big, overarching problems--not to get caught up on your email.

Professional development. For your staff members. If you don't leave them alone for a while, how will you ever know what amazing things they are capable of? It's not like your big clients are going to stop emailing you just because you claim you're on vacation.

If it’s good enough for your shrink, it’s good enough for you. OK, my authority on this is no less than comedian Bill Maher, but still. Here's his rationale: "You know who else famously takes the month of August off? Psychiatrists. When folks with a doctorate in crazy think that working in August is crazy, it's probably crazy."

Sharks. Somehow Discovery Channel's sharkfest is in its 27th year, and now it's got company. Sharknado 2: The Second One will play in theaters August 21.

Because technology lets you check in with the office. Even when you probably shouldn't.

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Last updated: Aug 5, 2014

KIMBERLY WEISUL | Staff Writer | Inc.com Editor-at-Large

Kimberly Weisul is editor-at-large at Inc. and co-founder of One Thing New, the digital media startup that is rebooting women's content. She was previously a senior editor at BusinessWeek.




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