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By Kate Lorenz, Editor

RISMEDIA, April 16, 2007-A staggering 96% of Americans check in with their offices several times during their vacations, according to a national consumer survey commissioned by Jameson Irish Whiskey and conducted by Beta One Research in Connecticut.

The survey found that while trying to vacation, 70% of Americans receive phone calls from their offices. On top of that, only 5% of respondents were able to relax as soon as their vacation started; about 60% said it takes one to two weeks to relax – and by then it's time to head back.

"Often we fear losing our edge – that if we wind it down to vacation energy levels and focus and that more laissez-faire attitude, we won't be able to ramp it up again," says Dr. Pam Brill, organizational development psychologist and author of The Winner's Mind: A Proven Method for Achieving Your Personal Best in any Situation (McGraw-Hill, June 2004).

"In reality, this is just plain wrong. Continuing to pound it out when we are reaching our limits is a surefire way to burn out or lose the passion that makes us wonder, 'Why am I doing this?'"

According to Brill, the value of vacation evaporates in 90 seconds to 90 minutes of hitting the job again. No wonder we dread the morning after! Most workers toil for two weeks worth of time to get ready and another two weeks playing catch up upon return. Is it worth it? Brill says it is.

If the alternative is to not go away, to not get that week of deep breathing than enables another view of the life you have created, then the extra work on either side is well worth it. By acknowledging that there is extra effort pre- and post-vacation, you can be literally and mentally prepared.

To make sure that you make the most of your vacation, Robert R. Butterworth, a psychologist who has spent 20 years counseling patients suffering from stress-related disorders, has some suggestions:

1. Starting three weeks before you leave, prepare co-workers with reminders on a weekly basis.

2. Delegate specific tasks to specific people.

3. Assign a trusted person to handle all crisis and emergency matters.

4. Designate one primary contact with the office so that you are not making and receiving calls from an entire staff.

5. Create a specific time when you will be available for emergencies, and stick to it (for instance, you'll take calls each day at noon).

6. Let bosses know that if you are called and are on the clock, reimbursement is expected.

7. Program your e-mail, work telephone and pager to reply saying that you are on vacation and will respond on your return. Give the name of the contact person.