Time Off is ON!
With the coming of Spring and the rapid approach of Summer, it’s time to start thinking about VACATION! Now, while this is usually supposed to be a break from the stresses and drains of our jobs and day-to-day home life, planning and organizing a vacation can sometimes end up being even more of a drain on our resources. That’s where an assistant can help!
Overall, there is a growing trend nowadays toward shorter and shorter (and even non-existent) vacation times. Sometimes there is a perception that “things are so busy, I just can’t afford to be away from the wheel for very long,” or “I don’t have anyone to cover for me who’s competent enough to handle the work.” What’s sometimes worse, though, is the decision to try and work through a vacation: taking our work with us to the beach. Attitudes like this can certainly lead to a strained process in setting up and planning a vacation, and can even completely negate the positive effects that come from some time away from work.
Let’s get some things clear: Vacations are necessary. Vacations are healthy. Vacations HELP us do better at work. Studies have shown that without a chance to get away from even low-level stress environments, we can see detrimental effects to our wellbeing. Basically, if you think about what we’ve looked at in the previous blog posts (where planning short breaks away from our work can actually increase our productivity) and apply that on a larger scale, the picture becomes pretty clear: time away helps us stay good at our job.
“Burnout”: We’ve all experienced it. We’ve been working out butts off, trying to rigidly stay on task, straining to check off every item on our list of must-do items. But the problem seems to be, the more we get taken care of, the more seems to appear that we have to attend to. Pretty soon, we’re feeling like it’s all we can do just to check our email every day, so we try even harder to push through. Our work suffers, our happiness suffers, and life is no fun. We’re basically surrounded by exhaustion, and that can be a very real threat to both our productivity and our health. If we’re exhausted, we’re not engaged.
When we take a vacation and actually relax, we allow our bodies to release all those toxins and muscle and nerve tensions that have crept in and built up during our working hours. We all run off a combination of biological chemicals and electric neural impulses which are real, physical things affected by real, physical stimuli. If we pump our systems with stress, over-effort, and caffeine, it might work but only for a limited time. Eventually, those systems are going to need to reset, and our bodies will do it whether we want to or not. This can mean we crash in the middle of a work week, getting sick and having a very inconvenient couple of days feeling miserable in bed.
On the other hand, we can take our time and plan a deliberate period of active recuperation: a vacation. Firstly, the very act of creating an enjoyable vacation can serve to motivate us more at work, as we know we have something coming up to look forward to; something we know is going to be relaxing and refreshing. Secondly, it’s weird but true: it takes effort to relax. We all know that we can’t just come home from work and immediately get in pajamas and be completely at ease. Decompressing and sloughing off the remains of the day can take a while, even a couple of days (or longer, if it’s been a while), so planning time off, instead of just motoring on until we can’t anymore, is a huge factor in successfully vacationing. Lastly, committing ourselves to fully leaving everything at work behind for a week or so (and yes that includes email) makes us that much more likely to fully reset and experience all the benefits (mentally and physically) of time off.
Everyone Needs a First Mate.
So then, what to do about our work when we need to get away for a week or so? Obviously, we can’t just drop everything and fly off to parts unknown. Or at least most of us can’t. Even if we notify our clients and fellow employees of our impending absence, we’ll usually need someone to keep an eye on things and to keep the ship on course. And, if we really want to get the best out of our vacation, it’s best if that person isn’t us!
As with most successful relationships with an executive or personal assistant, the key is delegating. We have to be open to the idea of handing over the reins to someone who we trust, even if it’s only temporary. Next time, we’ll be looking at how having an assistant help you plan your vacation and maintain your business while you take that vacation can make all the difference.
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