Taking a break fits in with my ongoing efforts to get this worklife balance equation going. Fritz (2013) talks about how doing something which involves mastery and learning results in better recovery. So does thinking positive, not negative thoughts about work or better yet, disengaging the mind from work. It makes sense that people who love their work, and who get better and better at doing it find it easier going, not harder, to find that sweet spot between the 'work' and 'life'. My point is that inactivity might not be the best way to recover.
This year as you slid into the festive season and holiday season, what were you thinking would be the best way to recover your 'mojo'?.
Now I don't want to overthink what it means to be 'on holiday'. I do think though that if we want to capture that sense of being on holiday more often, the essence of not working, then we need to be aware of some of the basics. Here are some questions for one of my holiday visions, a 'by the side of the lake with a good book' scenario:
1. Is it a self-help book, a trashy novel, a biography or well written fiction; Is it paper or e-book?
2. Can I connect with internet and do I have a phone signal, power to recharge an e-reader, or do I care whether I do or don't?
3. Who is there with me, do I share what I am reading, would they care?
4. How long do I need to be in that spot, doing that thing, for the magic of 'rest' to happen? Does it have a natural end, is there some timer, will someone stop me doing what I'm doing?
5. Are the things that help me be there, things that I need to control? Do I need others to help me be there and comfortable, enjoying the moment? This can be simple things like is there enough shade and will ice in my drink melt? Do I pay per hour for parking or for a certain number of days in my hotel?
I think the answer to these questions help me work out what the bigger version of being 'relaxed' and 'recovery' are so that I can make the smallest versions of these.
We don't always have time or money for significant holidays, and even we are on those big holidays there are practical things to do that takes away from being "on holiday". This idea of mixing up having a break with whether we are at work or not, whether we are at home or not, who we are with, and what we are doing. So here are some things you can do to bring a sense of work-life balance to your working year for 2014:
1. Consider a 'staycation' where you stay at home and have a holiday and do things you would not normally do without the hefty pricetag of the hotel and travel.
2. Imagine you are one of those people who live and work in an exotic location, but come back to the real world for some of their business. What part of that world could you recreate at home? Is it having home help for a week? A spa or sauna?
3. Create a ritual of having a certain time, certain day, or couple of days that are 'timeout' and put those into your diary, even if you succeed only once or twice a month.
4. Make a time for regular meditation. It would be wrong to call this checking out, it's a much richer experience altogether. It is also becoming a much more common for people to do in Western cultures.
Figure out exactly what triggers the sense of renewal, holiday, relaxation, call it what you will, and find the simplest versions of that to slide into day-to-day life. This might be the short version of an overseas trip, a camping holiday, seeing a play or going to a concert. Then you need to do two things: do the short version regularly and plan for the long version.
Have a wonderful and successful 2014.
Fritz, Charlotte, Ellis, Allison M., Demsky, Caitlin A., Lin, Bing C., & Guros, Frankie. (2013). Embracing work breaks: Recovering from work stress. Organizational Dynamics, 42(4), 274-280.