Tag: Vacation

Five Steps to Take After Vacation

Five Steps to Take After Vacation

It is Tuesday after Labor Day, and millions of workers are returning to work. Emails have piled up. Meetings have been scheduled. Reports need to be finished. 2017 Budgets have to be reviewed and approved.

It is less than thirty days to the fourth quarter and the year’s end.

Stress starts the minute you arrive at work. The vacation glow is gone.

However here are five things you can do to be more productive after a vacation.

  1. Print out and display one or two photographs of you and your loved ones on vacation. The photograph will remind you of what is important in life.
  2. Share your best vacation memory with coworkers. No one wants to view all your vacation photos but sharing a story helps build rapport with the team, especially if it was a positive or funny experience.
  3. Start a new habit. Because you have gotten out of the work routine for a few days, it is a good time to start a new habit. Maybe it is taking a walk on break, or eating lunch with a different coworker every day, or reading leadership articles on a daily basis.
  4. Ask for and listen to the challenges and victories that arose while you were gone. Did one of your direct reports handle a project while you were gone? Did one of your coworkers get budget approval for hiring a new employee? It is a great time to express gratitude to your team.
  5. Focus on your long-term goals. When you return to work after vacation, it is easy to focus on “getting things done,” like deleting emails. It gives you a temporary sense of progress but won’t move you closer to your long-term goals. Take a half hour and review your long terms goals for 2016 and 2017 and make a list of ten accomplishes you will have by the end of the week and then focus on them.
  6. Bonus: Check in with your boss. I am surprised how many people return to their workplace and don’t check in with their manager right away. They can give you an idea what the hot issues are and what to focus your time on.

Take a deep breath – you have this.

Be Productive – Go On Vacation

Be Productive – Go On Vacation

Going on Vacation might seem counterproductive to all the Type A’s in my reading audience; “I can’t be productive if I am on vacation.” Without vacation, you cannot be productive at work for the long term. In one period of my life, I was managing the studio operations for a major television network, and we were launching a new state of the art studio. During this time, I was working thirteen to fourteen hour days, seven days a week; it was a fun and exhilarating work, but after two to three months, my productivity at work was about seventy-five percent of what it had been when we started the project. Additionally, I was making judgmental mistakes and becoming irritable. In fact, all of my colleagues and I were. The vice-president sent us all home on a Friday afternoon and told us not to return until Monday morning. It was the best thing he could have done for the team and our productivity.

In today’s work environment, we tend to focus our energy on the tasks at hand, churning through the day’s to-do list and moving on to the next “important” item. As we do this, our brain is consuming twenty percent of the energy our body is producing and even more when we focus on high-level problem solving (Raichel, University of Washington). It is no wonder; we are all exhausted at the end of the day.

In looking at high performing athletes, musicians, and artists, researchers noted that most engage in deliberate practice for periods of no more than four hours. Researchers found that any amount of time above this, negatively impact performance, increasing physical injuries and mental fatigue (Ericson, Florida State University). Now, I don’t think we will change the eight-hour work structure any time soon, but I do believe that we need to look at the lack of rest on our performance.

Without rest (time away from work), our brain and body are challenged to produce the necessary energy to perform continuously at a high level. The side effects of too much work, not enough play, include poor decision making, higher levels of stress, and lower levels of performance. In Europe and other industrialized economies vacation is highly valued with mandatory vacation days reaching as high as twenty days per year. In the United States, only half the working population gets any paid vacation days and those that do average around eight days.

Going on vacation, allows us to reduce stress, recharges our bodies and gives our brains a chance to replenish itself. According to Ferris Jaber at Scientific America, “Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance. . .” If we don’t have downtime, our brain continues to work but will slowly reduce its output impacting all areas of our lives.

My advice – take a long vacation and enjoy some downtime, reset yourself for the fourth quarter push we all know is around the bend. You will thank me later.