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4 Simple Tips for Taking Advantage of Summer Vacation

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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.

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    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 November 22, 2021

    Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

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    Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

    Thanksgiving, a day of pure gluttony, football, and possible uncomfortable situations with family members that you may or may not like. Oh, yeah, and the whole “know and reflect on what it is to be thankful and grateful.”

    During the holiday season many people forget what this time of year is bout and are too worried about getting the “early-bird” deals on Black Friday and making sure that they have the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I am sort of a “Grinch” when it comes to the holiday season, mostly because of that mentality by many of the poeple around me.

    But instead of being grinch-like this holiday season, I decided to simplify things and get back to what this time of year is actually is about; being thankful for what I have and what I can give.

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    Simplify

    I’m not a “minimalist” in any real sense, but in the last few months the talks of Patrick Rhone and others have got me to rethink my stance. Can you really have too much stuff?

    Absolutely.

    And with all that stuff comes the burden and the weight of it on your back.

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    If you feel that the things around you are out of control, maybe it’s time to simplify and be thankful and grateful for what you have and use. Here are a few things that you can do to simplify:

    • You know those gadgets in the drawer that you said you were going to sell? Well, time to get the listing on eBay and sell them. Or, send them to a place like Gazelle. Even if they are old and won’t get money, you can at least recycle them.
    • Get rid of things you don’t need. Like old books, clothes, tools, etc. Have something that’s been laying around forever with no use? Donate it to a charity or church. If you aren’t using it, someone else could be.
    • Find your productivity tools and stick with them. Use tools and gadgets that serve multiple purposes so you can simplify your tool set.

    Be Mindful

    You don’t have to be a master Buddhist or meditator to be mindful (although, it can definitely help). Being mindful comes down to being cognizant of the present and not keeping yourself in the past or future. It’s about living in the moment and being aware of yourself and everything around you. It’s just being.

    Without getting too “California” on you, it is super important to be mindful during the holiday rush. Rather than worrying about the things that you forgot at your house on the way to relatives or thinking about the next stop in your endless holiday travels, just breath and think about what you are currently doing.

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    Spend the time with your family and friends and don’t crush the moment. Try not to concentrate so hard on getting the perfect photo of the “awesome moment” of the day and actually miss the awesome moment.

    Being mindful over the holidays will help you be with your families, friends, and yourself allowing you to enjoy your time.

    Reflect

    As the year is coming to a close (yes, it really is that close!) it’s a great time to start reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you haven’t. Within the next few weeks we will have a more throrough reflection article here at Lifehack.org, but reflecting every now and then over your holiday break is a great way to see where you have been doing well in your life and where you need to improve.

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    Reflection shouldn’t be used to “get down” on yourself. Reflection should be used to take an honset inventory of what you have accomplished, how you handeled situations, and what you can do better. If you journal everyday (a daily form of reflection) it may be a good time to start going over some of the things that you have written and start to put together a year’s end journal entry. I mean, how else will you write your autobiography?

    But, seriously, reflecting on yourself makes you aware of your successes and faults and helps you plan and make goals for the coming year. It makes you a better person.

    So, while you are stuffing your face with bird, stuffing, and mashed taters’, remember that the holidays are much more than the superficial things. Use this holiday to become a better person.

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    Featured photo credit: Libby Penner via unsplash.com

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