Some of the smartest and most successful people I know understand in order to have the ability to work at peak performance levels requires incredible energy and stamina. To have that consistently, one has to schedule recovery time. It’s as important to your bottom line as landing that big client or making the next sale. Let this sink in: According to SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management, 85% of talent managers agree employees who use most (or all) of their vacation time are more productive and focused.
See, part of taking care of yourself is being a champion for your own physical and mental well-being. That’s why you’ll see extraordinary leaders plan and take vacation down time. That means disconnection from responsibility, technology, and even emails! (That last one scared you a little, didn’t it? Studies show that over 50% of employees check work-related emails after hours, on vacation and during holidays. STOP.) While it’s not always possible to completely “unplug”, it should be a goal to use your down time as true time away. To replenish the mind and spirit. To shake out the cobwebs. Find new perspective. Renew energy levels. And make quality time to pay ATTENTION to loved ones the top priority.
I read an article not long ago in Fortune Magazine that shared how Europeans think Americans are crazy because while they take up to six weeks of vacation per year, statistics show that US employees leave 429 million vacation days on the table annually. Interestingly 40% of executives think employees would be more productive if they took vacations. Yet among those same senior managers, 72% said if offered unlimited vacation time they wouldn’t take it! What’ THAT about?
If what you REALLY want is to be better at what you do, and have a better life while you’re doing it – try these three strategies for scheduling recovery and downtime:
Plan early: One thing we do as a team, is review calendars at the first part of the year and plan a variety of trips during that year and might include cars, bikes, pool time or trips back to Australia to see family and friends. It’s a practice we have followed for many years to ensure the majority of vacations are scheduled to give us experiences to look forward to. Can you review your calendar and book time to enjoy something that you love to do with people you love being with?
Create variety: Look for ways you can mix it up – with a variety of destinations, adventures and times of year based on your needs and budgets. I’m not a stay-cation kind of gal. My office is in my home (maybe you have one there too.) That means I would just work the whole time, so that doesn’t work for me. For some people, it works. Consider visiting a new spot, driving instead of flying, build in adventure, art galleries visits, or a walking tour of a city. With so many online tools to help plan your visit, you can leverage community events, support local initiatives and experience cities and towns in a completely new way. We often use the site HomeAway.com, as I prefer an apartment or a house than a hotel when traveling for extended stays. We have used this service around the world and have loved it every time. My career allows me the luxury of travel to incredible places staying in lovely hotels and yet some vacations the idea of getting on another plane or staying in another hotel. Can you and your family choose a new adventure in the next twelve months that everyone can help plan to enjoy a trip together?
Go offline: This is the toughest ask for many of our clients (and me) but it’s not impossible! Can you create an out of office message that bounces back to manage email providing an alternative person to help while you are away? Can you stay off social media and instead focus all that time and attention on creating memories with those you love? I am a huge fan of a digital detox; your vacation is a great time to do that.
Get outside. There’s something incredibly life-affirming about getting outdoors in beautiful new space. Think mountain hikes, a walk on a nature path, collecting shells on a beach, or catching fish on a lake. Have you ever noticed how much better you feel, how much deeper you sleep and how much healthier you feel on vacation when you invest time to be active while you are relaxing?
Create memories: Truly, isn’t one of the biggest reasons we work so hard is to create a lifestyle for our loved ones? Keep this in mind – recovery time is not always just about your taking a break, it’s about taking the time to create special experiences with family and friends. It’s about connection. It’s also NOT negotiable for any leader who wants to excel. If you want to accelerate your leadership and be a productive contributor on your team? Take time off. You will be more fun to work with, more focused and energized and you will create memories with people you care about, and isn’t that the reason many of us work?
Here’s my challenge to you: Pay attention to what matters. You, your health, and your loved ones all benefit from scheduled recovery, book yours today. Need more convincing or ideas how you can achieve peak performance through regularly scheduled recovery time? Check out this video and learn how professionals can achieve maximum productivity results, focus and dedicated attention to goals and priorities through recovery time.
Want to learn more about making the most of your time? Take a look at my book Folding Time. It’s a game changer!
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