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If You Can’t Take a Vacation, Get the Most Out of Minibreaks, by Emma Seppala in HBR


Stashed in: Business Advice, Awesome, HBR, Downtime, Introverts!, Leisure!, Life Hacks, @emmaseppala

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Panda sprinkles!

If you really can’t take a proper vacation, Adam Rifkin, successful Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur and founder of PandaWhale, suggests “taking a little downtime every day rather than pushing it off for some getaway week.” Sonnentag’s research also suggests that if you make an effort to completely disengage from work when the workday is over – by, for example, engaging in a hobby you enjoy, exercising, or taking a walk in nature – you will reap the benefits: you will feel less fatigued, more engaged at work, and more energized when you leave work. Research on energy management at work shows that taking micro-breaks at work (by, for example, listening to music) leads to less fatigue and greater vitality.

Unless your hobby is your job and you recharge your batteries by working on it.....

In which case it's all good because your hobby recharges you which gives you the energy to do other things too!

That's true--I have a couple jobs.  One feels like a job, and when I have time off from it, I usually work--on job two which feels like a passion, although is technically work.  I think passions are important.  But still, it's necessary to be flexible and willing to take a whole day off for things.  If the world of work can't survive that, then it's too serious.  

I agree with you Dawn. I will remember to take a day off from time to time. 

Geege are there any other parts of this article you thought was good advice?

Two things:

I recently took a week off and instead of my usual out-of-office e-mail reply "I will have limited access to phone and e-mail..." (really, who are we kidding) I used "I will have no access to phone...".  It was a big liberating step for me.

As for employers, they appreciate that their employees check in while on vacation and are only an email away. After all, their employees’ continued presence even while on holiday will ensure that nothing falls through the cracks and that there will always be a go-to person. Research shows that managers tend to judge employee commitment to the organization by their levels of “citizenship behaviors,” which sometimes includes going above and beyond their job tasks to serve the common good. If managers confuse not taking vacation with citizenship, or are not supportive of taking vacations, then employees will leave much more vacation time on the table regardless of the overall organizational policies.

Unfortunately, the logic of both employees and employers is highly flawed. Both fail to realize that cutting into vacation time is actually detrimental to both organizations and their employees both in terms of financial and productivity costs. But while I wish it were different, I recognize that if you don’t get much vacation time, can’t afford to take any time off, or work for a boss who scowls at the idea of a two-week vacation – or even a at the idea of a two-week vacation – or even a single full week off – you will have to figure out a workaround.

It’s vital that you do so. Research by Sabine Sonnentag suggests that detaching from work is essential to enhanced productivity. Her work has shown that, while people who do not detach from work suffering from greater levels of exhaustion, those who do recover from job stress and are more likely to have higher engagement levels at work.   “A high level of recovery and work engagement seem to reinforce each other,” as she explained to me in an interview.

Is it "I will have no access to phone and email" or just "I will have no access to phone"?

Phone and e-mail.

Basically, if you're going to take a break, make sure you take a break.

Checking phone or email means essentially there is no break.

It's not about the act of checking, it's the expectation.  I always check phone and email, and I do work when it pops up--again, I'm choosing to.  So, if you pinged, I'd answer, but if I'm on vacation, I get the right to make that call.  Otherwise, it waits...  I remember once early in my career, I went away for the weekend and when I came back, my desk was full of files and things.  I got in trouble.  Taking a vaca, the message was, got you put in the penalty box.  Most other people hid the files on their desks--so, dishonesty got you rewarded.   It's important for employees to set the bar as to how much work is reasonable, then say, "I'm sorry, I'm not going to get to that."  

I got to that point in education--it's a 24/7 expectation.  You work all day, then correct all night. During summer, people meet to design curriculum and go to professional development.  Nope. Not anymore.  I leave most of it on my desk, and set up learning experiences that don't bury me.  My family and life need to happen, too. I'll still always answer an email from my students--the beauty of technology--but they know I go to bed early and if they need me they catch me early. 

Good. I like your rule of thumb that it's about setting expectations properly. 

And this:

And when you’re taking your daily break or your weekly days off, don’t just sit in front of the TV. Totterdell adds, “Research on mood states during different activities indicates that active leisure (e.g., conversation, hobbies and exercise) is associated with more positive mood than passive leisure (e.g., TV, home computer).” One kind of activity does not fit all, however. Totterdell adds that “research on sustainable happiness indicates that the activities need to fit with the person’s goals and personality, and need to be varied.” If you are more introverted, for example, you might find time alone reading at home to be more restorative whereas more extroverted people might need to spend their leisure time being social with friends and family.

I'd never heard the concept of Active Leisure vs Passive Leisure before.

That's a good point about introverts finding their own form of restoration.

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