- Posted by Liz Gooster
- 0 Comments
- creativity, holiday, productivity, time out, vacation
In today’s 24-7, ‘always on’ culture, it can sometimes seem as though everywhere you look there are tips on how to get more done, work smarter, be more successful. And as my commitment to my lists, my power hours and to goal-setting demonstrate, I am as big a productivity junkie as anyone! Yet as my recent blog post, The Productivity Paradox, argued, stepping back, pausing for breath and taking time out are just as essential to efficiency, creativity and results.
With the summer months upon us (at least in the northern hemisphere), a Harvard Business Review article claiming that over half (55%) of working Americans don’t take their full vacation allowance caught my attention. I have always been of the view that if you don’t take your paid holiday entitlement, you are effectively doing volunteer work for your company, and the piece draws the same conclusion. It also provides evidence-based research showing that employees who take more vacation days are actually more likely to get a salary increase or promotion than those who take fewer holidays. Of course, as I now work for myself, I don’t have any paid leave and over the years have heard many small business owners say they haven’t taken time off in years because they would lose out on revenue. While that may be true in the short term, my view is that if you don’t take time off, you lose out on a different level – on creativity, wellbeing, energy levels. And in the long term, this impacts productivity and revenue generation.
There is growing evidence on the stress caused by never switching off. For an overview of some of the issues see this extract from neuroscientist Daniel Levitin’s book, The Organized Mind. If this isn’t enough to convince you to pack your bags, take a break and enjoy a change of scene, consider some of the findings on creative and innovative thinking. Although the brain isn’t a muscle, it can be useful to think of it as being like one sometimes. Yes, you need to exercise it. Give it problems to solve. Feed it good stuff (from this helpful blog post by Creative Review). Yet our brains also need time to process all the stimulation we expose them to and come up with great new ideas. It’s no surprise that so many of us come up with our freshest thinking while in the shower, or at the gym, or out walking the dog. We might think we’re not working, but our brains are always active and giving them the luxury of a break from the work routine can ironically mean they produce their best work in terms of thinking.
Plus holidays are fun! They offer time to spend with family or friends, or in blissful solitude. Time to see new places, check out of our normal habits, meet new people, do different things, to rest, read, reflect, recharge. As regular readers will know, I personally love to travel, but a holiday doesn’t have to mean an exotic trip, it’s the switching off, leaving behind our normal work mode and adopting a more relaxed vacation mindset that counts. And while you might recognise the immediate and direct benefits of a holiday in feeling relaxed and renewed, the indirect benefits to your longer-term productivity and success might be even greater. Is it time you took a holiday?
If you liked that, you might also like:
- The Productivity Paradox, my post about finding time to pause, to step back and think in order to clarify, focus and think more creatively
- How to get more done – my post on the power of the ‘power hour’
- Round the World in 100 Countries – I will need plenty of time off to fulfil this fun travel blogging challenge!
- This New York Times article by Tony Schwartz on the connection between relaxation an productivity
- This TED talk by designer Stefan Sagmeister on the power of time off and the creativity generated by sabbaticals
I like to describe myself as happily ‘At Large’ in an independent portfolio career, balancing executive coaching, maternity coaching, leadership development and coach training. Other interests include travel writing, literature, fitness, food and drink. Connect with me on Twitter @lizgooster.