With nine weeks remaining of this year I’m entering the holiday ambivalence zone. I’m impatient for a break from work and responsibilities. I long for languorous summer days with a novel and no agenda and I’m excited about the possibilities and fresh start that a new year brings (untouched yearly planner anyone?).
At the same time I’m clinging fiercely to these final weeks, hoping against hope that I can tick off the tasks, projects and ‘to-dos’ and hit my self-appointed targets. Surely I can throw together online programs, write my first book draft and prepare a fourth podcast season in nine weeks while juggling client commitments, pre-Christmas events and impending school holidays?
It’s tempting to see summer holiday time as my chance to catch up. It’s quiet on the work front. The family are occupied with the beach and the cricket. Why not schedule in time to catch up on incomplete tasks?
Stop For a Better Start
Science says pushing through rather than taking a holiday break is not a strategy for a productive year ahead. Regular time out from our work and responsibilities is vital for creativity, well being, productivity, happiness and life satisfaction
Disconnecting boosts creativity. Your brain is always busy, even when you’re not. Down time gives it the opportunity to process past ideas and input, make meaning, see patterns and recollect the past without the addition of too much extra input. This is why ideas often flow when you’re resting.
Studies show that ideas generated at work after a holiday are often more diverse than before going on vacation. It seems a rest enhances ingenuity and reduced reliance on conventional ideas and routine solutions.
Down time enhances satisfaction, balance and career success. The benefits of regular days off were tested in a four-year Harvard Business School study led by Professor Leslie Perlow. Working with Boston Consulting Group employees, the researchers examined the effects of scheduled days off that allowed them to completely ‘ switch off’ (no phone or email). Five months into the research, the employees reported feeling more satisfied with their jobs, more content with their work-life balance, more likely to see a long-term future at the company, and prouder of their achievements.
Planning is important to reap holiday benefits. We’ve all taken that trip that was less rest and more stress. The car breaks down. Your accommodation is double booked. The family fight. There’s an outbreak of gastro…
Taking time off can make you happier and more productive on your return but if you’re travelling, good planning and less stress is vital to reap the rewards.
Short breaks count! Only have a few days to escape the grind? Relax. Studies show that taking one single, short-term vacation (four days) has a large, positive and immediate effect on your feelings or stress, recovery and well-being. Better yet, you should feel the effects up to 45 days post-vacation.
Holidays create happiness all over. Looking forward to a positive holiday experience? Maybe time with family or friends? Summer warmth? A travel adventure?
A break that makes you feel good can have spill-over effects into your satisfaction with life overall. A positive holiday promotes better work-life balance, give us a break from feeling hurried and harried and boost our overall mental health, making everything in life look and feel a whole lot brighter.
That’s enough to convince me. I’m booking in a full break, with no work. Just some books, the seaside, family, good food, walks, warmth and relaxation.
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