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 do the same for 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.
Just the act of getting up in the morning can be a daunting task. And I’m not even talking about all the responsibilities we have.
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” doesn’t serve a purpose. I’m talking about resting with a very specific reason: To recharge your battery so you can keep working hard.
To me, life is about working hard. Voltaire said it best:
“The further I advance in age, the more I find work necessary. It becomes in the long run the greatest of pleasures, and takes the place of the illusions of life.”
Rest reduces stress. It improves creativity and 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 in general means less productivity.
Why? Well, we often waste time if we have more of it. It’s simple: If I say to you, you have a year to write an article. What would you do? Procrastinate, right?
But what if I tell you that you only have 2 hours? You immediately think, how can I write this article ASAP!
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.
You take off a few days, recharge, spend time with your family or friends, and when you come back, you’re more productive.
Sounds great. But wait, there’s a caveat.
When your vacation is stressful, the positive benefits go away. Have you ever watched National Lampoon’s Vacation with Chevy Chase? That’s how my family holidays were. Not good.
So keep the stress at a minimum on your holiday. Otherwise, you’ve wasted a perfect opportunity to relax and boost your overall productivity.
Here are a few tips that might help.
1. If You’re A Planner, PLAN
One of my friends loves to plan everything. He loves itineraries and minute by minute plans of the day when he is on vacation. I’m the opposite.
When we went on a trip a few years back, he said, “I’m going copy your style and just go with the flow.” I said, “perfect.”
On the first morning, I slept until 10 AM. It turned out he woke up early, got nervous because he didn’t have a schedule, and spent the whole morning creating one.
Don’t try to be someone you’re not. If you like to plan your holiday, just do it. But try to stay flexible: You’re on a holiday.
2. Make A Daily Movie
It’s creative, and it’s a great memory for later. Plus, focusing on the act of filming will force your attention on something specific. In that way, you will be more in the moment, and you’ll worry less about stuff back home.
Just don’t film ALL day. Otherwise, you won’t be present at all.
All you need is a smartphone. Just film stuff with your phone and edit it right on your phone. If you’re more into video, bring a proper camera and a laptop.
3. Read A LOT
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.
Recently, he published an article with 5 books that he’s reading this summer. Take a look if you’re looking for some inspiration.
I like to read for hours on my holidays. Reading slows downtime, makes you think, and is good for your brain.
4. 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 in to distractions, just give in to 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.”
- “Money never sleeps.”
Yeah, yeah, I’ve been there too. But what would you rather: Continue to work without resting and burn the fuck out? Or take some rest before you’re tired? Yup, life is long — so play the long game.
On that note, I might not be tired yet, but it’s time for me to take a break. So I will see you again when I come back on August 1 with a new article.
Until then — take it easy, because I definitely will.
P.s. For years I couldn’t afford to go on holiday. If you’re in the same position, have a staycation. The above tips still apply.