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The Absolute WORST Day to Take a Vacation (It’s Not When You Think!)

The Absolute WORST Day to Take a Vacation (It’s Not When You Think!)

    I need a vacation.

    For the last couple of months, I’ve been working like crazy getting my book ready for publication, and laying all the groundwork to promote it. I coordinated with my 30 contributing authors to get their chapters polished and ready, I got the books designed, printed, and then shipped out to reviewers, and I’ve written dozens of guest posts to help spread the word.

    Not to mention producing two video trailers, putting together a sweet launch offer, coordinating with reviewers… and doing everything I have to do as part of day-to-day client work.

    All to say that I’m tired, and I could use a break.

    And the book is done, launched last week – isn’t it time for me to be able to kick back and enjoy the fruits of my labor?

    When You’re Supposed to Take a Vacation

      The prevailing wisdom states that our lives should follow a pattern that looks more or less like the one depicted to the right;

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      1. We choose a new goal – something that is important to us, that we’re willing to put time and energy into achieving.
      2. We work towards that goal. A lot. There are setbacks along the way, but we keep on trucking.
      3. We evaluate our success. As long as we haven’t achieved that goal, we buckle down and get back to work.
      4. Finally, we achieve the goal. Success! Victory! Now it’s time to reward ourselves with a vacation.

      And of course, when we get back from vacation, it’s time to set a new goal, and start the whole cycle over again.

      This is the prevailing wisdom, and according to the prevailing wisdom, I should be packing my bags right about now; after all, the book is published, the guest posts are written, the marketing is all done – in other words, the work has been completed, and the goal has been achieved.

      Except that the prevailing wisdom is wrong, wrong, wrong. To understand why it’s wrong, we have to understand where it came from…

      Vacations in a Corporate Setting

      The prevailing wisdom comes from the corporate reality, and in that setting, the prevailing wisdom makes sense.

      The job of managers in a corporate environment is to make sure that other people do theirs. To do that effectively, they have to do two things (in addition to giving clear instructions and allocating the actual work, of course):

      1. Manage employees’ motivation. If employees aren’t motivated to get the job done, then they probably won’t. It’s the manager’s job to keep employees motivated to keep on working.
      2. Manage employees’ energy level. If employees are tired or burned out, then they won’t get much work done, either. It’s the manager’s job to manage workloads, and make sure that doesn’t happen.

      Putting a vacation at the end of a project helps to achieve both of these objectives; it rewards employees for their hard work, which helps to keep them motivated, and it gives them an opportunity to recharge, so that they’re ready for more hard work when they get back.

      But that logic doesn’t work if you’re running your own business, and in charge of your own income.

      For one, you shouldn’t need a vacation to reward you for your hard work; the results of your hard work should be all the reward that you need. That’s the beauty of doing your own thing – at least part of the reason why you do it is that you love it, and find the work itself to be motivating.

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      (This intrinsic motivation is also why I believe that entrepreneurs are capable of doing so much more actual work than corporate employees; if you want to learn more about that, check out Dan Pink’s RSA Animate video about his book Drive.)

      But even more importantly, because it doesn’t factor in two very important things: momentum, and the landscape of opportunity…

      Momentum is a Real Thing

      Momentum is a funny thing. You can’t touch it, or see it, but you can definitely feel it, and it can do wonderful things for your business. It is also the first big reason why you shouldn’t take a vacation after a big win.

      Here are three basic rules for understanding momentum:

      1. Wins create momentum.
      2. Action after a win multiplies momentum.
      3. Inaction dissipates momentum.

      Simple enough, and pretty intuitive, right?

      The upshot of these rules, though, is that after your big win, you should be doing everything that you can to ride and multiply the momentum, rather than taking a break and letting it dissipate.

      There’s an even better reason to work after a big win, though: wins change everything.

      The Changing Landscape of Opportunity

      Goals, by definition, are about changing something – if everything stayed exactly the same, then you wouldn’t have to work to achieve it. We have a lot of different kind of goals, but they all boil down to making us healthier, or happier, or better off. In other words, they’re about making our worlds a little bit better.

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      Better is good, but better is also different. It’s hard to change just one thing and leave everything else the same. Changing one thing changes everything. And when everything changes, new opportunities open up.

      Now let me ask you, as an entrepreneur – when new opportunities are opening up, is it time to take a vacation, or is it time to seize those opportunities? Any entrepreneur worth his salt would say that it’s the latter – that’s just a part of the mindset that allows entrepreneurs to do what they do…

      The Red Honda Effect and the Psychology of Success

      You know how when you start thinking about something, suddenly you start seeing it everywhere, as though you were “magnetically drawing it into your life”?

      Some people call it “the secret” or the “law of attraction”, but I call it the “red Honda effect”. Thinking about something doesn’t magically draw it towards you, but it does focus your attention, so that you start noticing it around you (just like when you’re thinking about buying a red Honda, you start seeing them everywhere).

      The same effect is at play when it comes to looking for opportunity. Just developing the mindset that opportunity is there, just waiting for you to find and seize it, will expand your frame of reference and allow you to see more possibilities.

      (Want to read more about this? Check out Mindset by Carol Dweck, or Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson.)

      Long story short? When things are going well, there’s always the opportunity to make them even better! :D Now, just to be clear, I’m not advocating the stereotype of the workaholic entrepreneur who never takes a break or vacation.

      What Vacations Are For, and When They’re Okay

      Entrepreneurs don’t need vacations to stay motivated, but we do need to manage our energy level, and vacations are a big part of that; it’s important for us to take breaks, breath some fresh air, and get some perspective on what we’re doing. In other words, even though we don’t need vacations as rewards, they’re great for resting and recharging – just so long as we don’t take one at a time that will take away our momentum, or kill an opportunity.

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      For an entrepreneur (or anyone who is in charge of their own income), vacations don’t come when projects are complete. On the contrary – they should come when the projects are still in progress, but you’re tired, and need to recharge to carry the ball the rest of the way:

        Celebrate, then Get Back to Work!

        Make sure not to skip the celebration box, because it’s important!

        As the diagram indicates, our projects aren’t as nice and neat as the projects of a corporate employee, with a start, middle, end, and vacation before the next one. Our projects are messy, and blend into each other in a continuum of work and the pursuit of opportunity.

        That’s great, and we wouldn’t have it any other way, but it’s also important to pause and celebrate the wins.

        After the launch, my wife and I went out to a nice restaurant, and raised our glasses to toast my book finally being done and launched to the world.

        But then the next day, I got back to work… ;)

        What about you? Do you believe in a vacation after a big win, or do you agree that this is the time to look for new opportunities, and build on your momentum?

        (Photo credit: Beach chair and umbrella from Shutterstock

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        Last Updated on February 17, 2021

        50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

        50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

        If you feel like you don’t have enough time to do everything you want to do, maybe it’s time to check-in with your time management skills.

        No one is born to be very good at time management, so that’s okay if you think you’re bad in it. But everyone can learn to boost their productivity and achieve more!

        Here are 50 ways to increase productivity and add hours to your day.

        1. Set a Timer

        Estimate the time you need to tackle different tasks and set a timer for each of your tasks. How you go about this is up to you as there are many different ways. There is the Pomodoro technique where you focus on a task for 25 minutes followed by a five minute break afterwards.

        In the event that you have a task that will take much longer than that, you can consider one of the many timer-based apps. One that comes to mind is Clockify. It’s used for freelancers and entrepreneurs alike, however it’s a good way to be setting yourself a timer. It provides reports and you can serve as a project manager of sorts too. Best of all, it’s free.

        2. Eliminate All Distractions

        Distractions include the phone, email notifications and having multiple web browsers open on the desktop. Just as it’s important to be organized offline, it’s key to have things organized online as well. This free guide End Distractions And Find Your Focus is a good tool to help you. With this guide, you’ll learn how to get rid of distractions and boost productivity. Grab your free guide here.

        You can also learn more on how to get rid of all distractions in this guide: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

        3. Listen to Music That Boosts Productivity

        Distractions should be avoided, but sometimes a bit of music in the background can help you focus.

        Of course, it doesn’t need to be heavy rock music, but a bit of Beethoven may do you some good.

        Here’s a complete guide to help you pick the right music for better productivity: How To Maximize Your Productivity With Music: A Complete Guide

        4. Find Meaning in What You Do (And Love What You Do)

        Enjoying what you do is the ultimate way to increase your productivity.

        If you aren’t sure what you love doing yet, don’t worry. Leo Babauta has some unique ways to help you: How to Find Your Passion

        5. Prioritize your tasks ahead of time.

        By listing your tasks in order of importance, you can make sure that you finish all of your most important tasks during the day.

        Learn a unique technique to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster.

        6. Batch Similar Tasks into a Single Batch.

        Tasks like blog writing, phone calls, email and errands can be grouped into a single batch. You will save time by completing similar tasks in one session. One way to help you with organizing all of those things is through the app Todoist. It’s an easy and simple way for you to plan out your day, set reminders, and group all of your most important tasks in a convenient spot.

        7. Complete Your Most Dreaded Tasks First Thing in the Morning.

        Whichever activity you are dreading the most is probably the one you need to complete first thing in the morning.

        Many people tend to check emails in the morning because after checking a list of emails, they feel fulfilled. But that’s just an illusion of having achieved more.

        Doing simple tasks like checking emails first in the morning is bad for you. Instead, do the difficult tasks because you have more energy in the morning to tackle them!

        8. Reward Yourself for Finishing a Big Task

        To stay motivated for whatever you do, reward yourself every now and then.

        Keep track of your small wins and milestones and celebrate them. So whenever you struggle about your progress, you see how far you’ve come!

        Find out more about this 2-Step Approach to Self-Motivation: Track Small Wins and Reward Yourself.

        9. Don’t Multitask

        Research has shown that multitasking is not productive. If you think you can multitask, think again.

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        For optimum productivity, focus on one thing at a time.

        10. Step Away from the Computer

        The Internet has become one of the number one distraction. To increase your productivity, try to do as much of your work offline as possible.

        I do this a lot when I try to brainstom new ideas and have found it to be very beneficial to simply unplug.

        11. Use Focus Tools

        Make good use of apps and technology to help you remove distractions.

        Here’re 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools to help you stay focused. This way, you’re not distracted by the web, e-mail, or IM.

        Also, join the free Fast-Track Class – Overcoming Distraction, and you’ll learn the one simple method to work even when you’re surrounded by distractions. Join the free session now!

        12. Just Start

        Often times, starting is the hardest part. People tend to wait for the perfect time with perfect condition to start. But there’s no perfect condition.

        Once you get going, you will quickly get into a rhythm that could last for hours.

        13. Find out Your Productive Hours

        Everyone has a certain time of the day in which they are more productive than others. For me, it’s the morning.

        Find out when your prime time is for productivity and optimize your work schedule accordingly.

        14. Keep a Notebook and Pen on Hand at All Times

        This way, you can write down your thoughts, to-dos and ideas at any time. The key is to get everything out of your head and onto paper. Your subconscious mind won’t be reminding you about it every other second. Another consideration is getting the app Evernote. Not only does this save you on ink and paper, Evernote is a convenient place for you to jot down notes and thoughts and then share them with the team. In certain circumstances, this can prove useful if you’re the type of person that has a lot of ideas that you want to share.

        15. Write a Blog to Chronicle Your Own Personal Development and Achievements

        The blog keeps you accountable and always working towards self improvement and personal growth.

        When you write down all the small achievements you’ve been having, you’re also more motivated to move forward.

        And you know what, this is how I started Lifehack too! What also helped me in starting Lifehack is WordPress, which allows people to set up a website for free. WordPress has simplified a lot of the process of building a site to the point that virtually anyone can build a website now.

        16. Write out a To-Do-List Each Day

        I like to plan my day the night before. This way, I can get started on my most important tasks as soon as I wake up. The Full Life Planner is a nice tool to help you organize your days and get things that matter done. Check out the planner here and start to plan your day ahead easily!

        Make sure you don’t make any of these common to-do-list mistakes!

        17. Write Your Most Important Tasks and To-Dos on a Calendar.

        The key to good time management is knowing where to be and what to be doing there at any given time. Effective calendar management goes hand in hand with good task list management.

        Learn here How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space.

        18. Reflect on Your Productivity Constantly

        As you go throughout your day, repeatedly ask yourself:

        “Am I currently making the best possible use of my time?”

        This one simple question can be an excellent boost to your productivity.

        19. Get up Early Before Anyone Else

        I know it could be difficult for some to wake up early in the morning but nothing beats a quiet house!

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        Here’s How to Start Your Day at 5:00 AM and some Simple Things Early Risers Do to make waking up early easier.

        20. Get Plenty of Sleep

        When you work online, sleep can become a long lost memory. However, it’s important to get plenty of sleep so that your working hours can be as productive as possible.

        Try out this night routine which I highly recommend for productivity: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

        21. Exercise

        Research has shown that midday exercise boosts productivity and morale in the workplace.

        Take a short walk at lunch or do some simple stretches during your break to maximize your productivity.

        Here I have some exercises recommendations for you:

        22. Outsource as Much as Possible

        If you want to achieve more in less time, learn to delegate or outsource work. Here are just a few of the companies that will help you outsource your everyday tasks:

        Also, read this guide to learn how to delegate effectively: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

        23. Set Some Exciting Goals

        Without worthy goals, you will never be motivated to get things done.

        Set goals that are challenging and achievable. The best goal setting framework is a SMART goal. That said, there are other tools that can help you out as well. For example, The Dreamers’ Guide To Reaching Your Goal is a great guide to help you set and reach goals effectively. Grab your free guide and learn how to make your goals happen this year!

        24. Tell Other People About Your Goals

        When you tell others about your goals, you will instantly be held accountable.

        25. Listen to Podcasts

        Listen to educational podcasts or audio books while you’re driving to work, cleaning the house, exercising, or cooking dinner.

        Audio learning has the power to add hours to your day. Not to mention, your cranium is sure to thank you for it.

        Some recommendations for you: 11 Podcasts To Inspire Yourself

        26. Read David Allen’s best-selling book Getting Things Done

        This is one of the most important productivity books you will ever read. Read it, apply the tips in your daily lives and get more things done.

        Here’re more great books about productivity too: 35 Books on Productivity and Organizational Skills for an Effective Life

        27. Learn to Speed Read

        When you can read faster, you will read and learn more! Check out these 10 Ways to Increase Your Reading Speed.

        You can also make use of the app OutRead to help speed up your reading speed!

        28. Learn to Skip When You Read

        When you’re reading a book, just read the parts that you need and skip the rest. But you have to read with a purpose.

        Learn how to make it work here: How to Read 10X Faster and Retain More

        29. Focus on Result-Oriented Activities

        Pareto’s law (also known as the 80 20 rule) states that 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. This means that 20% of our actions result in 80% of the results.

        We must find the 20% that is creating the 80% of our desired outcomes and focus solely on those activities.

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        30. Take a Break

        You can’t always be working at optimum productivity. Instead, you should shoot for working in short bursts at your most productive times.

        31. Start a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule

        What is polyphasic sleep?

        Polyphasic sleep is a sleep pattern specification intended to compress sleep time to 2-5 hours daily.[1] This is achieved by spreading out sleep into short (around 20-45 minute) naps throughout the day. This allows for more waking hours with relatively high alertness.

        While you can learn more about it here, you’re recommended to take some naps during the day to recharge your energy too.

        32. Learn to Say “No”.

        We can’t do everything and therefore we must learn when to say no in order to save our sanity.

        Learn the Gentle Art of Saying No from Leo Babauta.

        33. Go on an Information Diet

        Most of the world lives on information overload. We must eliminate mindless Internet surfing.

        Stop reading three different newspapers a day and checking your RSS feeds multiple times a day. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done.

        The key is to limit yourself only to information that you can immediately take action on. Here’re some simple tips you can try: 10 Simple Productivity Tricks To Manage Overloaded Information

        34. Organize Your Office

        The piles of paper around your desk can be a huge barrier on your productivity. Optimize your time by organizing your office, setting up a system and dumping the junk.

        Check out these 21 Tips to Organize Your Office and Get More Done and 20 Easy Home Office Organization Ideas to Boost Your Productivity.

        35. Find a Mentor

        By modeling after those who have already achieved success, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy.

        A good mentor is hard to find, so here’s a guide to help you: What to Look for in a Mentor

        36. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts

        With technology’s help, you can double your work efficiency. Even better, you learn all the shortcuts when using technology, for example keyboard shortcuts.

        When you use keyboard shortcut, you gain 64 hours every year!

        Not sure what shortcuts to lear? Check out these 22 Tricks That Can Make Anyone A Keyboard Ninja.

        Besides learning the shortcuts, you can also create keyboard shortcuts with AutoHotKey.

        37. Improve Your Typing Speed to Save Time

        Do you know you can save 21 days per year just by typing fast?

        You don’t really need to take some serious courses to type faster, try these typing games online:

        38. Work from Home and Avoid the Daily Commute

        If your job is a flexible one, consider working from home. This saves you the commute time and you’ll find yourself more energetic throughout the day as you have saved the long ride.

        Take a look at these tips to help you stay productive while working from home:

        How to Work from Home and Stay Ultra-Productive

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        39. Get Rid of Time Wasters

        Common time wasters include Instant Messenger, video games, Flickr, checking your stats 10 times a day, television and extraneous Internet surfing.

        Don’t rely on your willpower, make use of some of these useful tools to help you stay focus: 10 Online Apps for Better Focus

        40. Plan Your Meals in Advance

        Plan out all of your meals a week ahead and make your grocery list accordingly. This allows you to focus on the necessary – saving you time and money. You can also save yourself even more time through a wide variety of apps. One app that I find helpful is Mealime. It’s an app that provides you with a wide selection of recipes and also a convenient spot for your grocery list as well.

        Considering the fact that over 4 million users have this app, it goes to show that there is a good selection of meal plans that you can follow and that the app is friendly to use.

        41. Cook Your Meals in Bulk

        When you cook your meals in bulk, you will have plenty of leftovers. This can avoid having to cook everyday.

        Find out more about how to make cooking in bulk works: Once a Month Cooking: Productivity Hack or Overrated Time Suck?

        42. Protect Yourself from Unnecessary Phone Time with Caller ID

        The minutes you spend on picking up unnecessary phone calls are time wasted. You can prevent that from happening.

        Check out this detailed guide how you can deal with those unnecessary phone calls: How To Lose the Useless Items that Weigh Down Your Day – Cellphone Calls

        43. Take Shorter Showers

        This one may sound silly but it’s actually something I struggle with. I spend up to 30 minutes in the shower. Think of the time I could save simply by speeding up a bit.

        44. Save the Trips to Bank by Taking Direct Deposit

        Many employers now offer direct deposit. If yours does, then be sure and take advantage of it and save yourself from a number of trips to the bank.

        45. Auto Pay Your Bills

        How many times have you been worried about whether you missed the bills deadline?

        Auto paying your bills will save you time and eliminate late fees and increased interest rates.

        46. Shop Online

        Whenever possible, avoid going to the store. When you shop online, you can be more focus about what you’re getting.

        47. Speed up your Internet With a Broadband Connection

        Many people are aware of the slow speed of internet but aren’t doing anything about it. In fact, this is the number one Internet time-saver!

        If you must use dial-up, then you can use accelerators like Propel and SlipStream to double or even triple your speed.

        48. Keep up the Speed of Your Computer

        If you’re a Windows user, use Windows hibernation feature to avoid the slowdown of exiting and restarting Windows.

        Or maybe, consider switching to Mac as there’re plenty of Advantages You Probably Don’t Know About Switching To Mac From PC.

        49. Turn off the TV

        The average American watches more than 4 hours of television every day. Over a 65-year life, that’s 9 years glued to the tube.

        For better health and productivity, turn off the TV. Here’re 11 more reasons to tell you to stop watching TV so often.

        Turn off the TV and you are sure to get more out of life.

        50. Use a Tivo or DVR

        This can help you cut an hour-long television show down to just 40 minutes. You can save time while not missing the fun.

        So, here’s the ultimate list of techniques you should learn to boost productivity. Pick the techniques that work for you and make them your daily habits. As time goes, you’ll find yourself being a lot more productive.

        More Time Management Tips

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

        Reference

        [1] Medical News Today: What is biphasic and polyphasic sleep?

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