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Why Staycation Is the New Vacation for Every Travel Lover

Why Staycation Is the New Vacation for Every Travel Lover

Everyone loves a vacation. I get it. But have you noticed that vacations aren’t always the most rejuvenating experiences?

We usually go on vacation to relax and experience something new and fresh. And sometimes we choose to have a fun-filled trip – perhaps packed with adventures.

However, if your main purpose for taking a vacation is to get some well-deserved rest, then you may be disappointed. Just think of all the preparation and planning that must go into every trip. As an example, here’s what most people would need to do to organize a typical 7-day trip:

1 month preparation – consisting of planning/arranging the trip. 2 days of long driving, bus, boat, train or air traveling. 1 day to tackle jet lag caused by the trip. Several hours within the trip packing and unpacking stuff. 4 days where you can really enjoy your vacation.

After returning home, you may need several hours to unpack your stuff. And… another day to deal with jet lag. Then a few days later (or immediately after), you go to work, feeling even more exhausted than before the holidays.

What’s abundantly clear, is that the time spent on planning and traveling drains your personal energy. Booking flights and hotels, packing, unpacking, traveling time, etc, all deplete your mental and physical energies.

Vacations are nice, but if they can also be an energy-killer, is there an alternative way to spend our spare time?

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Yes, there is. It’s called staycations.

The Oxford Dictionary describes staycations as,[1]

“A holiday spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.”

Staycations offer similar things to what vacations do (e.g., relaxation, refreshment, experiencing new things), but because they don’t involve long traveling, they cost you a lot less. It’s not just financial savings, you’ll also cut out the time and stress of planning, that typically make up the preparations for a vacation.

Let’s take a look at the great things about taking a staycation.

Give you almost 100% of restful time with little to no prep

Stop to consider the following: the ratio of quality time that’s spent on relaxation is more important than the number of days for holidays.

If you give this some thought, you’ll realize that it’s true. For instance, a weekend break that consists of long travel on either side is no recipe for relaxation.

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This is one of the reasons that staycations are more refreshing than vacations. They act as genuine breaks from work and life pressures. Instead of losing time and energy preparing for a vacation, a staycation will provide you with high-quality resting time.

Pause for a moment, and just think of all the effort that goes into the typical vacation… long travelling, packing/unpacking, jet lag, etc. As I mentioned earlier, a vacation can leave you more tired than before your trip!

Fortunately, a staycation is not at all like that. You’ll get back to work feeling more refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated.

A vacation may only offer around 50% of relaxation time, while with a staycation, you can count on almost 100%!

Fresh experience just around the corner

Staycations also tick some of the same boxes as vacations like experiencing new things, you just need to explore nearby things which you have never paid attention to.

Often we over look the attractions that are near to us, choosing instead to spend big amounts of money to visit foreign countries. However, if you make an effort to explore the area close to where you live, you may be pleasantly surprised. There will be cafés and restaurants you’ve never tried, historic buildings you’ve never seen before, and nature parks you’ve never visited.

Notice the phrase “you’ve never” in the above sentence. You may have convinced yourself that to see new things you need to travel overseas. But with a little effort on your part, you’ll be able to experience new and exciting things close to home.

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Make old place feels new and amusing

Even for places you’ve been to before, a new mindset will bring you new experiences. A little twist to what you do and how you do it can bring a new experience to the place where you go often.

For instance, you may normally drive past a canal on your way to work and think nothing of it. However, on your day off, why not drive to the canal and take a walk alongside it? You may be amazed by how the sun glistens on the surface of the water, how colorful the canal boats are, and how much beautiful wildlife has made their home by the canal.

It’s the same with local parks. Maybe you usually just walk pass them, why not try taking advantage of their space and greenery? You could picnic there, play with pets there, or just relax and watch the activities of others.

And if your village, town or city has a central square, try grabbing a coffee, sitting in the square and simply watching the world go by…

Different times, days and seasons will have their own unique flavors. For example, Friday evenings may be more of a time for couples, Saturday mornings may be family-orientated.

Whether you choose a park bench, or a seat on the veranda of a café, the fresh air and daylight will be a potent combination in boosting your energy and well-being. You don’t have to spend the time people watching, you could just read a book, listen to music, or simply close your eyes and enjoy an inner peace and quiet.

Ideas to make your staycation exotic

Struggling to think of things to do on staycations? Don’t worry, as the list I’ve put together below will give you plenty of ideas.

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Take a different seat when you go to the same old place.

We’re all products of our habits. We get out of bed on the same side, we have the same breakfast, we leave the house at the same time, etc. While habits are useful for getting things done, when it comes to breaking free from our stresses – it’s good to try something different. One of the easiest ways to do this, is to choose a different seat or table when you next go to your regular café, restaurant or bar. You’ll get a different view, and a different experience.

Visit your usual places – but at a different time.

As well as trying out different seats, when not try different times too? For instance, if the only time you ever eat out is in an evening, perhaps it’s time for something new. You could join your work colleagues for lunch, or even arrange to meet some friends for breakfast. And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you could even organize a midnight feast!

Bring different people with you.

If you love walking to the top of hills and mountains, but you usually choose to do this alone, next time – bring along some friends. Not only will you have good company to talk to during your adventures, but you’ll be able to share your joy of walking through nature with your friends. They’ll benefit, and you will too.

Try something new in the usual place.

It’s easy to get into a routine of doing the same in the same place. But you’ll provide yourself with a welcome boost by trying new stuff. For example you can try this in a restaurant you go usually. If you normally order a coffee, try an iced tea instead.

Book yourself on an ‘activity day’.

For example, you could book yourself onto an ‘activity day’ at a place local to you. How about a day learning the basics of rock climbing? Or maybe a day experiencing whitewater rafting? And if animals are your thing, you could book a day course on learning how to ride a horse. These are just a few suggestions, and I’m sure, with a bit of research, you’ll be able to find dozens more exciting activities to experience.

Still want to have that vacation?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still fantastic to travel to exotic places and to experience different cultures. Diving in warm, clear blue seas, or skiing down sun-drenched mountain slopes, may not be adventures that you can do close to home.

However, when your kids, work and financial pressures have left you feeling stressed and exhausted, then a staycation could be just the ticket you need.

You can forget about weeks of preparation, say goodbye to security checks at airports, and instead, say hello to peace and quiet. Ultimately, staycations are the ideal way to restore and revitalize your mind, body and spirit. Try one and see for yourself!

Featured photo credit: Kaboompics via kaboompics.com

Reference

[1]Oxford Dictionary: Staycation definition

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Brian Lee

Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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