The Green Sheet Online Edition
July 27, 2015 • Issue 15:07:02
Take a stayawaycation
It's July, a month in which many folks take a vacation. Usually that entails getting in a car, plane or boat, and traveling to places off the beaten trail, such as the mountains or the beach. I have fond memories of vacations in my youth, when my parents were responsible for the itinerary (and the costs). All I had to do was gape out the window, read a magazine or do puzzles, and periodically ask, "Are we there yet?"
For adults, of course, things are more complicated and more stressful but, if they're lucky, they can also find respite from the daily grind while they sit on the beach or hike in the woods.
Some folks, though, find traveling stressful – not to mention expensive – and prefer to find rest and relaxation closer to home. Instead of taking vacations, they take "staycations." This term is used by those who, for whatever reason, prefer to forego travel and look for leisure activities in the general vicinity of their homes.
Let go of work
I suspect, however, that many choose this option in order to keep working. There are, of course, many opportunities for those who take more traditional vacations to work when they should be relaxing due to the widespread use of smartphones, tablets and laptops. But the temptation to sneak away to work is stronger when you're staycationing, especially when you already conduct a lot of your business from home.
You shortchange yourself when you do this because you don't get the rest and relaxation you need to recharge. Study after study shows that occasional downtime is essential for a creative and productive work life. In the long term, your business suffers when you work during vacation. If you remain "plugged in," a staycation doesn't allow you the refreshing escape that you occasionally need.
Ditch the devices
Instead of a staycation, you need a "stayawaycation." And what you need to stay away from is not just your work, but also the digital devices you use to do that work.
What does that look like? For me, it means limiting myself to my phone, and packing away my other devices during the time that I'm away from work. It also means "dumbing down" my smartphone by turning off my wireless and Bluetooth connections. No work and no games, except for those that don't require plugging in.
Tune out from to-dos
But even after disconnecting my brain from the Internet I'm still tempted, during my time off, to continue doing the mental work that is an essential part of my job. A visualization exercise helps me deal with that. I envision a big red button in my mind and I poke it with a mental finger, then watch the glowing words of the "to-do" list on my mental screen blink out. Once that is done, I can open my eyes and look out the window to gaze at the sky or the trees, free and clear of mental encumbrances.
Sometimes I need to poke that button multiple times before I get a real break. But when I do, I'm grateful, and when I return from my stayawaycation, I'm rested and ready to work with renewed enthusiasm. So if a staycation is in the cards for you this year remember you can and should give yourself some real downtime.
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