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“Don’t stress about work on vacation.” Easier said than done, right?!

September 7th, 2012 2 Comments

 

Doesn’t it look like I’m having fun?!  That frustration is actually not from work but from my first attempt at Angry Birds.  LOL.  Either way, why on earth do I need an iPad laying by the pool in Thailand?!

Every time I go on vacation it takes me at least a few days to unwind and disconnect from the world.  Then I get upset I wasted that time worrying instead of just relaxing.  By the time I’m waking up in the morning and heading to the beach instead of the gym, it’s already time to go.  Ugh.

Well, I think I found a solution for us.  The question is, can we execute it?

In his NYT article “Call Waiting: It’s me, Your Vacation,” Matt Ritchtell offers up a list of how we can prepare for vacation so when we get there, we’re ready for to take on the R&R.  Just reading the intro I got excited!

“The secret to not killing your vacation revolves around understanding not just your motives, but also your brain and the role it plays in undoing your precious time off.”

He goes on to offer the last Vacation Mental Prep List You’ll Ever Need.  Below is a little summary, but if you’re as plagued by stress by I am on the first three days, I encourage you to read his whole article.

1.  START NOW

Slamming on the brakes is never a good way to approach a complete stop.  Just like in a car, start to slow down before you go by disconnecting for periods of time, restraining from checking your phone first thing in the morning and right before bed, etc.  I feel like this practice will also show you the world can carry on without you.

2.  LEAVE YOUR CONTEXT AT HOME

In our daily lives our surroundings, environment, colleagues, pets, etc, provide the context for our routine.  Our phones play a part in that as well as they constantly alert us to engage with them.  Since you’re leaving your physical context behind, get in the habit of leaving your phone behind as well.

3.  ENDURE THE BOREDOM

When you’re relaxing your brain will “hunt for stimulus.”   Fight the withdrawal and try not to obsess over other activities, scheduling, and to-do’s. If your brain is hyperactive, you make a sport out of seeing how many things your brain hunts down for you to do.

4.  GET OVER YOURSELF.

The world won’t end due to your absence.

5.  DON’T PREPARE FOR YOUR OWN DEATH.

I love to clean my room, empty my inbox, and make sure everything is squared away before I go anywhere. That feeling is satisfying.  But should I not get everything done, it can be painful according to this article, science, and my own experience.  I think what he’s trying to say here is don’t set your expectations for completion too high.

6.  CHANNEL THE THREE-DAY WEEKEND

When long weekends and holidays come along, we don’t manically prepare for them.  So think of a vacation like a few three-day weekends.  Like long weekends, vacations can help refresh you and refill your creative tank IF you can leave the work behind.

7.  DON’T WORRY ABOUT RE-ENTRY; MOST OF IT IS SPAM.

You don’t want to feel like you’re going to be bogged down once you return.  And you won’t be if you’ve had a chance to fully disconnect and relax.  My two cents here:  just like any other work day you’ll set your priorities, schedule meetings, and work through the week with manageable expectations.  (Are you laughing now too?)

As I said, this list is a good one, if we actually surrender to the fact that we stress over work too much and believe our vacation is valuable on many levels.

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  • This was a FANTASTIC read. Something I think a lot of people have to remind themselves to do. Thanks for posting.

    • When I read the article it was such an eye-opener. Of course we should start disconnecting before we leave! Now, let’s see if we can actually do it :)