If you’re like most people, vacationing is a welcome reprieve from usual daily stresses. On vacation you may laugh more, sleep better, feel more at ease, but why should we limit that to 10 days out of the year? Nothing really changes on vacation except a shift in perspective and that shift is something we can manifest at home on a regular basis whenever we want. Here are eight easy steps to live and work like you’re on vacation:
1. Change your commute.
The best part of vacationing is seeing new cities, landscapes, and people. Taking in new information about our environment forces us to become more aware. We stop hanging our heads in our phones and look up to see what’s around the corner. Changing up your perspective can be as easy as changing your commute to work. If you drive, take public transit. If you take the subway, consider riding your bike. It could be as easy as taking the long way around or stopping by a coffee shop that is a little out of the way. A change in your commute doesn’t have to be huge, but it will have a huge payoff.
2. Answer your email twice a day.
Many people stay connected to their email on vacation, but the ones who get the most rest are the ones who give it a rest. The batching technique was made famous by life hacker extraordinaire Tim Ferriss. It’s simple: set up an auto-response that lets people know when you’ll be checking your email throughout the day, preferably two times a day in the late morning (after morning emails have come in) and early evening (at the end of your work day), and a phone number where they can reach you if it’s an emergency. Knowing that they won’t hear from you until those specific times allows you to get more meaningful work done and to feel less pressure to respond to everything immediately.
3. Go to new restaurants.
We all have our tried and true spots. They know our name, what we like to order, that we want our dressing on the side. But on vacation our palate is constantly changing. Eating out isn’t just about avoiding doing the dishes later on, it’s about getting to know a new cuisine and atmosphere. It makes eating more conscious and consciously chowing down makes every bite more satisfying.
4. Assume nothing.
Remember when you were on vacation in a brand new culture and you weren’t sure what was expected of you in restaurants, or on the road, or even just walking down the street? Assuming nothing meant you were open to new experiences. You saw the world through innocent eyes and that’s a good thing. Taking away the assumption that you know all you need to know leaves you open to being a student. Practice this in your relationships. Assume you don’t know what your boss or spouse is going to say next. Consider every moment a surprise and see just how much more interesting your daily interactions can be.
5. When your to-do list is finished, stop.
A novel idea, right? We get so engrossed by productivity that turning off our progress-oriented brains at the end of the day can be difficult. So much so that we often make up meaningless tasks just so we can keep working. When you prepare for vacation, you run down your list of things to take care of and then you leave. You turn off your phone, get on the plane, and just stop working. You can create the same kind of daily rest by simply stopping once your list is complete. Sometimes, the lists of things to do really will be endless, but knowing that you can only get so much done in one day is your permission to stop. Clock out every day.
6. Filter the same old problems through your vacation lens.
You know that as soon as you come back from vacation, the same old issues at work or home will reappear. Just because the problems are there doesn’t mean that you have to react in the same way. Consider the most valuable thing you learned on vacation – maybe it was learning to slow down, maybe it was recognizing that you could step away from your team and they were just fine on their own, maybe it was that you feel the best early in the morning. Whatever it was, use that lens to look at your current everyday life. If you are feeling run down and uninspired, maybe you need to get your most important work done first thing in the morning because that’s when you had the most energy on vacation. Get into your vacation mode to solve problems and the answers are usually obvious.
7. Use your commute to consume.
Consume podcasts, audio books, music, radio. How many times do you see this question on Facebook right before someone goes on vacation: “Any good book recommendations for the beach?” Why should we save the consumption of books and music for the times we’re out of town? When you find yourself allowing more down time in your life, you’ll have the space to fill it with inspiration. But even if your schedule is packed, you can always use your commute to get inspired. Instead of planning for or worrying about the day, take a book or a playlist to create the mood you want. Choose to make your commute as pleasurable as possible.
8. Plan free time.
You didn’t just show up at your vacation destination, it took planning. You carved out time and set aside some money, you researched what there was to do and got your butt there. There is no difference between vacation free time and everyday free time except that we plan the former a lot more easily. Schedule in your plans to see a concert or meet a friend for coffee or simply get in another half hour of reading. If you’re not sure what you want to do each week, at the very least block off time for just you. An hour of free time a day keeps the exhaustion away. Don’t assume it will happen, make it happen.