You recharge your phone when it runs out of juice. You refill your gas tank when you’re running on empty. But sometimes, you forget to take a break and recharge your most precious possession: Your body (and the brain that’s inside of it).
Whether you love what you do, are in between jobs, or have a job you hate: You’re working. Living is also a job. A pretty tough one, actually.
So why do you make your life even more challenging by not taking a vacation to recharge? I’m not talking about your weekends that are packed with activities, or holidays where you do more work than relax.
No, that type of “free time” only costs energy. I’m talking about resting with a very specific reason: To recharge your battery so you can get back to living a productive life.
A break reduces stress and improves productivity.
Scientific research shows that a vacation decreases perceived job stress and burnout. Now, that’s a pretty solid benefit of taking a few days off. But there’s more.
As you may know, I’m always interested in productivity. In the case of resting or a vacation, my question is:
Will I get more things done when I get back?
The answer is yes, but there’s one major thing to keep in mind. But let’s back up a bit: What does it mean to get more done? Getting things done has nothing to do with time—if you work more hours, you don’t necessarily get more done.
In fact, research shows that working more hours general means less productivity.
Why? Well, we often waste time if we have a lot of it. It’s simple: If I say to you, you have a year to write an article. What would you do? Put it off until tomorrow, right?
But what if I tell you that you only have 2 hours? You’ll probably get started right away. So in a way, having more days off, and fewer days to work, forces you to be more effective with your time.
Research shows that a vacation in itself won’t make you more productive, but when you have more days off, you have a strong desire to get more things done in less time.
And that’s a win-win situation for everybody: You, your business, or your job.
Sounds great. But wait, there’s a caveat.
When your vacation is stressful, the positive benefits go away. So keep the stress at a minimum on your holiday. Otherwise, you’ve wasted a perfect opportunity to relax and boost your overall productivity.
I recently felt I needed a break for several reasons. I had a few injuries that didn’t seem to go away and had less energy. I could have powered through, but instead, I decided to go on a vacation with my family. For a week, I did absolutely no work. And when I came back, I was full of energy.
Here are a few tips that might help you to take a break that fully recharges you.
1. Do What You Want
There are no rules for taking vacations and everybody relaxes in a different way. If you like to plan your holiday, just do it. If you want to go with the flow, then do that.
Want to wake up early? Do it. Don’t like waking up early? Sleep in. Even if you go on a vacation with your partner, friends, or family, you don’t have to be together 24/7. You can also sometimes do things that you enjoy.
The key is to not have expectations on your vacation. Let go of everything. I also don’t like to post vacation pictures on social media. Otherwise, I’m constantly thinking about taking a cool picture so I can impress others.
You’ll probably even do things you wouldn’t do just to take a picture. “I really need to rent a jet ski so I can take a picture with it.” No, you don’t.
Who cares? Focus on enjoying the moments you experience. Whatever those moments may be.
Bill Gates is famous for his voracious reading habit. He is also known for his ‘Think Week’ where does nothing else but read and think.
You don’t have to be Bill Gates to think about your life and career. We all have our daily, weekly, and monthly routines. Usually, routines and habits work very well. However, you can also get stuck inside a loop.
That’s why I recommend you to step back from your daily life and career. If you do that, two things can happen: When you step away, you miss your daily life and can’t wait to pick up where you left off.
Or, the opposite will happen. You don’t want to go back. See that as a sign that you need to make a change. Either way, a break always serves a purpose. It doesn’t only help you to recharge, it will also make you think.
That’s why I like to read for hours on my vacation.
3. Get Bored
One of my favorite strategies for finding new ideas is to get bored out of my mind. It sounds easier than it is because of distractions.
In the past, I would do everything to NOT get bored: Watch TV, go out, browse Facebook, etc. But did you know that you can use boredom to your advantage?
Instead of giving into distractions, just give into the boredom and see it leads your mind to. In fact, one of my favorite artists of all time, Andy Warhol, embraced boredom. You can tell by the boring films he made or the references he made in The Philosophy Of Andy Warhol about getting bored.
Whenever I hit a creative wall, I just do nothing. Literally, nothing. Try it sometime. It’s a great strategy; maybe you come up with the next best thing in your industry.
It’s never a good time to take a break.
- “I just need to finish this project.”
- “My boss will never accept it.”
- “People will think I’m lazy.”
- “I don’t have time.”
- “My family needs me.”
Yeah, yeah, I’ve been there too. But what would you rather: Continue to work without resting and burn out? Or take some rest before you’re tired?
So before you use all those valid reasons to not take a break, think about what all the people in your life have to do if you’re not here anymore. Yes, you’re important. So take care of yourself. Take a break and come back with more energy.