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4 Simple Tips for Taking Advantage of Summer Vacation

4 Simple Tips for Taking Advantage of Summer Vacation


    As the dog days of summer approach, many of you will be fortunate enough to be able to take a vacation. Here are four ways to put that vacation to good use:

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    1. Actually take a break

    After several months of a hectic work schedule, you may have convinced yourself that idleness is a sin. To successfully recover during a vacation, you need to break free of this mindset: it’s perfectly okay to do nothing more than sit on the beach. This might sound obvious, but a 2010 survey by the travel site Expedia found that only 45 percent of Americans say they feel rested when they return to work after a vacation.

    Of course, vacations themselves can sometimes be overwhelming, especially when you bring along the kids. So be sure to schedule “vacations from your vacation”—hire a babysitter to watch your children while you and your spouse enjoy a romantic dinner. Or go for a quick, peaceful walk along the beach after your young children go to bed or before your teenage children wake up.

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    2. Kick your email addiction

    Whether or not you’ve brought along your kids, one surefire way to ruin a vacation is to endlessly check your email. Anytime you check your work email, your mind goes back to “work mode”—it frets about unfinished tasks, and worries about the work that might pile up while you’re away. It’s okay to check your email once or twice a day, but you simply can’t focus on your kids, your spouse, or yourself if you’re thinking about that email you have to send.

    In order to avoid having to check your email, or answer unwanted phone calls, you might need to be assertive with your boss and your peers. Make it clear to them that you are, in fact, on vacation—rather than merely working remotely.

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    3. Keep a healthy sleep schedule

    On the weekends and on vacation, most people shift their sleep schedule: they stay up later, and then sleep in. When they return to work, however, they typically have to shift back to an earlier wake-up time, all at once. This phenomenon has recently been dubbed “social jet lag,” and researchers have linked it to negative health outcomes such as obesity. So, for your health, try to go to sleep at a similar hour on vacation as you do during a workweek.

    Of course, an early bedtime is not conducive to late-night partying. So if you want to dance the night away, do so in the first half of your vacation. Then gradually bring your sleep schedule back in line with what it will have to be when you return to work.

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    4. Make a career check-up

    Many professionals can lose sight of the big picture when they are consumed by the day-to-day assignments of their jobs. A vacation is an opportunity for you to think about these more fundamental questions.

    One important part of your big picture is your career. I personally believe you should reevaluate your career at least once each year, and a vacation an appropriate time to reflect a little.  Why so often? Because a lot can happen in a year. You may learn more about the pros and cons of your current job. You might have sent a child off to college. You may have gotten a new boss or new colleagues.

    Thinking about these changes can help you make better decisions about the next step you should take. However, this career check-up doesn’t need to be a strenuous task where you write down every pro and con about your current job. You just need to step back and reflect—ask yourself whether this particular job is the right one for the stage of your career.

    (Photo credit: Relaxing on the Beach via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2018

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

    The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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    The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

    Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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    Review Your Past Flow

    Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

    Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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    Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

    Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

    Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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    Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

    Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

    We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

    Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

      Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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