A few weeks ago I took my first full-week vacation since before COVID. It was actually the first time I took a step away and turned on my email’s Out Of Office message since I went on the Amazing Race in 2019.
So here’s my confession. I am not good at disconnecting from work. I have this discomfort in unplugging that has me married to my laptop and my google calendar.
MORE ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER
I don’t say that expecting some type of badge of honour, I actually think it’s bad – unhealthy for sure.
My mindset has always been a little bit flawed when it comes to my definition of “hard-work”. My coaches will tell you that in training, if I didn’t leave exhausted, I didn’t feel like the practice was “worth it”. If I didn’t throw up from lactic acid or lay on the floor in pain for at least 20 mins, then it wasn’t hard enough (in my head at least). I definitely drove them nuts constantly asking for more volume of work.
It wasn’t a healthy mindset in sport, and certainly is something I can continue to work on in my entrepreneurial life, so I am trying. I am certainly not the poster child of taking time away to recharge, but here are 3 things I learned and reflected on since taking my vacation.
3 THINGS I LEARNED ON VACATION
1. Doing “nothing” is productive
As hard as it is to convince ourselves of this, sometimes doing nothing is the most productive thing we can do. Through the pandemic we have seen more reports of burnout and fatigue than ever before. When we’re at home and it’s too easy to just open our laptops and get back to work, we can feel guilty for not doing it. But having moments of nothing can actually contribute to future productivity. I know for me, at the end of a long day, forcing myself to write 5 more emails before bed will probably take about 5x the amount of time than if I just waited until morning and instead took the final hour before bed to meditate or read or just sit.
I’m trying to make space for more “nothing” these days and one of the ways I am doing that is going for a quick walk in the morning when I wake up – and I am not allowed to bring my phone! I just walk, think, and sip my coffee, without any ability to instinctively check my email or messages. It’s uncomfortable but sometimes even just 15-20 mins of nothing can feel 10x more recharging than 1 hour sitting and scrolling on my phone. Try and do nothing!
2. Things don’t break that easily
Sometimes we can have a fear of stepping away because “what if things break?”, “What if that project doesn’t move forward as fast?”, “what if someone needs me for something?”. I have thought all of these things and more, and I have no doubt I am not alone. We have this irrational idea that our systems, our work relationships, and/or our projects will “break down” if we step away. Turns out, after taking the time away, things don’t break that easily. The biggest thing I noticed was when I stopped sending as many emails, I got less emails in response. No one needed me or a response that badly. So I challenge you to just take a moment to etch into your brain that your systems, product, inbox, projects, or whatever are also going to be fine when you take some time away.
3. Time away makes room for innovative ideas
I know for me, when I took a step away, I was no longer drowning in back to back meetings and so many emails, I suddenly had time to daydream about the future of our program, or projects I wanted to start, or people I hadn’t reached out to in a while and needed to make time for. By putting space between my brain and work, I made room for some new ideas to seep in that had me so excited to get back home to my office and start building out some action plans. Now I’m not saying that will always happen, but business coach Taki Moore says, “create space and put magic in its place”, and I certainly feel my time away did that for me.