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Why You Need a Vacation

Want to keep your job? Take time off.

It sounds counterintuitive, but giving in to the demands to work around the clock may wreck your productivity, destroy work-life balance, and ultimately lead to the dreaded burnout -- a state of affairs which pretty much neutralizes any additional work you were able to put in during those extra hours at night and on the weekends.

But most American companies offer relatively little vacation, perhaps as few as 1.8 weeks for workers with less than four years of experience. (Folks who've been in their industries for 20 years can look forward to a whopping three weeks, a number which causes Europeans to double over laughing, perhaps over a glass of wine at a sidewalk cafe, and for the entire month of August.)

One thing you can do is work within the system to get as much rest as possible. Forbes staffer Deborah L. Jacobs suggests seven ways to reset your internal clock, including:

1. Work when you're most productive. Morning people: schedule the tougher assignments for the a.m., when you're freshest. Everyone else: try to hold off on meetings until you've had your morning cup of coffee.

2. Take fewer breaks. Although it's tempting to take any excuse to get away from your monitor for a minute or two, every time you return to work, you need to get back in the groove. Power your way through as much work as possible before taking a rest.

3. Go on vacation. Take every second of your vacation time, even if you only have two weeks, and even if your company subtly discourages it. You'll be a much better worker when you're rested and recharged, and most people remember how crabby their colleague was in the morning meeting rather than recalling whether he took eight days of vacation this year or ten.

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