More and more Americans are choosing to skip vacations often because of overwhelming demands at work.
A Harris Interactive survey found that Americans left an average of 9.2 vacation days unused in 2012 -- an increase from 6.2 days in 2011.
But contrary to popular belief, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less. At least that's the thinking of Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy project and author of "The Way We're Working Isn't Working."
"Without question, we have to change the way people are thinking and it’s a necessary shift," said Schwartz on Jansing & Co. "We are operating in a 21st century world with 20th century work practices. They are obsolete."
Schwartz believes that strategic renewal -- including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer more frequent vacations -- boosts productivity, job performance and in turn, health. By taking scheduled breaks, he thinks people can measurably increase their energy and efficiency overall. Key to that equation is sleep.
"Sleep is the most undervalued behavior in the average person's life," said Schwartz. "We have made the assumption that one less hour of sleep means one more hour of productivity. That’s nonsense...If you’re not sleeping everything else is suffering."
And recent data supports his thinking. A Harvard study estimated that sleep deprivation costs American companies $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity.
Taking breaks in the day and vacations are also crucial to maximizing a person's productivity.
"In daily life, build in one or two real breaks where you actually get away from your desk and leave your blackberry or iPhone behind," said Schwartz to Chris Jansing. "It's also critical to take vacations that actually restore you so that when you go on vacation you really leave the work behind."