What Everybody Ought to Know About Vacations
Have you been working your ass off for that promotion, but never getting it?

Do you take regular time off from work?

If you answered both questions with “no”, overwork might be ruining your career.

Even if that’s happening, chances are – you won’t notice it. Illogical and unintuitive, yeah. Here is why:

Working a lot feels productive while vacations feel unproductive. Is that the full story, though?Click To Tweet

Unfortunately, your feelings are working against you. Vacations are like sleep – they don’t seem particularly useful until you stop doing them. Once you stop you start slowing down more and more. Before you know it, you’re barely moving forward.

To avoid that – you take a vacation, some time off work. You disconnect from work. In essence, a vacation does a few things:

Also, if you’ve tried disconnecting from distractions, you most likely noticed something strange – distractions are more fun after disconnecting from them. Disconnecting from work has the same effect.

Work becomes more fun after you disconnect for a while.

I don’t know about you, but I never have productivity issues with fun work. It’s always the boring stuff that makes me procrastinate.

Not Taking Enough Vacations

Why take more vacations?

Shawn Achor answers that brilliantly in the Harvard Business Review :

“If you take 11 or more of your vacation days, you are more than 30% more likely to receive a raise.”

Vacations: Taking Vacations Pays Off
Source: The Data-Driven Case for Vacation
If you take fewer vacations, you'll get fewer promotions!?Click To Tweet

Add this to the fact that people are taking fewer and fewer days off work. For the last 20 years, Americans have been shortening their vacations – from an average of 21 days to an average of 16 days last year.

Vacations: America's Declining Vacation Usage
Source: The Data-Driven Case for Vacation

Taking vacations will boost your productivity. In a world full of distractions, one of the biggest distractions you can think of actually boosts your productivity.

Takeaway:

  1. Take your vacations.
  2. See point 1.

How to have better vacations

You’re a busy person. I get it, I’m quite busy myself. Here’s how to make the most out of your vacations to maximize their potential benefit:

  • Disconnect from work. The point of the vacation is to not work. If you’re checking email or making calls, you’re working. This kills most of the benefit of the vacation.
  • Experience new things. You need to get your mind off work for a while and allow it to rest. Experiencing something new and exciting is the best way to go about that. Novelty and excitement hardly leave you enough time to space out and think about something else (i.e. work).

When you’re learning something, it’s better to leave bigger intervals between every iteration. The better you do, the more you wait before your next review. This makes your brain work harder to recall the information thus strengthening the neuron connections and improving your ability to recall the information. This is called Spaced Repetition. But why is that important for work?

When you work you’re building neural connections – similar to studying. Taking time off gets your brain to work extra hard to recall the information you need for your work. Sounds familiar?

All and all this is easier said than done. You need to really disconnect from work and stop firing the same set of neurons that you’re used to. That’s why I’m suggesting novel experiences. Excitement is guaranteed to take your mind off excel.

Also, the second major factor you should consider is stress. The more you work, the more stressful you become. Taking regular breaks is crucial, but vacations can have an even bigger effect on your stress. To learn how to make vacations reduce stress (and not increase it) check this other article by Shawn Achor.

How to take time off without breaking the bank

Vacations: Take time off without breaking the bank
A weekend at the seaside, a day at the pool, or just a quiet afternoon at home with your loved ones. Rest up!

The biggest concern I’ve always had with vacations is the price.

Not only, I’m not working, but spending a ton of money on rest? No? Here are a few ways to get all the benefits of a great vacation without spending a fortune.

Take a day off. Taking a day off is important – it breaks your pattern. When you overwork, you’ll get into “automatic mode”. Eat, Work, Rest, Repeat. You’ll be disengaged and your days will be monotonous. Taking one of those days instantly kicks you out of “automatic mode” and hits the brakes on the monotony.

So, take a day off work, I suggest Friday, and fill it in with something new and exciting. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Spend the day at the park; Have a picnic (Great way to reconnect with a loved one)
  2. Go Hiking. You’re a car ride away from fresh air and rejuvenation.
  3. Go to the pool. Tan and work on your swimming. Do backflips in the pool (but don’t let anyone see you :D).
  4. Rock climbing is awesome. There are both indoor and outdoor locations your can climb at. Try it out!
  5. Spend the day with your loved ones doing something they want. Play baseball with your wife or have a romantic dinner with your kids. Or was it the other way around?

Fin

Taking time off is often difficult, but it is crucial to your well-being, productivity, and success. I hope I managed to convince you in that.

Now, to make sure you won’t forget about that, create a reminder:

  1. Open up your calendar and create a new event this Friday
  2. Name it: “Take a day off this month.”
  3. Set a reminder for the day before.
  4. Schedule it to repeat every 2 months.

That’s 6 of your vacation days planned for quick and effective “reset days”. You have plenty left to plan visiting Hawai or your aunt Patrice in England.

Don’t be so high and mighty, take some time off and relax. Good luck with that promotion!

PS: What is your favorite way to relax? I’d love to know!

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