Want to Be More Productive? Go On Vacation
In honor of our trip to Florida to visit family, let's talk about being productive in an unconventional way.
Everything we do is connected to everything else we do. A football player won't just practice plays over and over again. He'll also run stadium stairs to improve his speed, and lift weights to boost his strength. Both of these help him become a better football player.
If you want to be more productive, you don't just work more and harder. You create better sleep habits and exercise, for instance, so that when you are working, you're doing the best you could possibly do. Taking a vacation is one of those things that helps you be more productive.
There are several reasons why completely breaking away is good for our productivity, most of which I am sure you've experienced yourself!
When we know that we're about to be gone for a few days, a week, or longer, we have this tendency to prepare for being gone by miraculously getting more done in less time.
You plan on leaving Friday at lunch, and you somehow pack in three days worth of work in a half day. Impressive! But wait, there's more.
When you make a clean break from your typical routine, your body and mind aren't quite sure what to do. They crave regularity and equilibrium.
Often, the first few days of vacation are wondrous, relaxing, and rejuvenating. Then you become anxious to get back into the swing of things.
Granted, there's always those trips you never want to return from. But generally, that craving for equilibrium spurs us on to do more once we get back. It's like we're trying to (or actually needing to) make up for being out.
It creates a natural motivation for us, and provides the most common phrase issued by returning professionals: "It was good, but I was ready to be back."
Another thing vacation is good for is exactly the reason you take a vacation - to get a break. We need breaks!
Not just the 45 minutes on, 15 minutes off kind, but the kind that wholly and completely decompresses you and removes all traces of burn out from your day-to-day experience. That needs to be a regular part of your professional life.
I've heard stories of people who work virtually seven days a week, and then take a week off every quarter. Some go golfing every Friday afternoon.
Obviously, your financial situation will dictate how much of [whatever] you can or cannot do, but I think everyone at least needs a week of stay-cation every six months.
Going on a vacation isn't really a privilege. Breaks of that kind are necessary for anyone's health, and they even help you be more productive on either side of your time off. If you want to be more productive, go on vacation.