Tips for Making Your Vacation Count

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For those with an overactive work ethic, taking a vacation—and really enjoying it—can be a challenge. (You know who you are. You come back from vacation needing a vacation.)

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m a big advocate of Stephen Covey’s principle of “sharpening the saw.” Just as a sharp saw cuts more wood than a dull one, taking time for self-renewal promotes efficiency at work. We should embrace vacation as an opportunity for mental, spiritual, emotional and physical renewal, helping us boost productivity upon our return.

For many advisers, though, following that advice is more difficult than it sounds. Even if we manage to schedule a vacation, actually taking our mind off work and enjoying it is another matter.

Before my recent trip to Europe, I perused a number of blog posts and articles for tips on how to unwind on vacation. (You’d be surprised how many are out there!) Here are a few of the nuggets I found most useful:

  • Finish work in progress. Before you set off on vacation, wrap up your most critical tasks. Tying up loose ends and clearing your desk will prime your mind for relaxation.
  • Start strong. Whatever helps you relax—whether it’s drinking green tea, practicing hatha yoga, or doing a Sudoku puzzle—be sure to implement it on day one of your vacation.
  • Set aside your to-do list. Before you know it, vacation can become a frenzied rush to do all the things you don’t have time to tackle in your everyday routine. To really recharge, leave your to-do list on your desk chair before you head out of the office.
  • Consider unplugging. While some people prefer completely unplugging from technology on vacation, others find the prospect of coming home to thousands of e-mails incredibly stressful. On my recent trip, I discovered an effective system: checking e-mail for 15 minutes at the same time each evening. This helped ward off inbox anxiety but was enough of a break from the norm of constant e-mail checking that it still felt like vacation.

Remember, the extreme of any strength tends to become a weakness. A strong work ethic will serve you well most of the time, but never leaving work can come at the expense of self-renewal and, ultimately, efficiency.

Long story short: When you go on vacation this summer, don’t just change your work venue. Really be on vacation.

Joni Youngwirth_2014 for webJoni Youngwirth
Managing Principal of Practice Management

Commonwealth Financial Network
Waltham, Mass.

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