Vacations are meant to recharge and energize. Every study I’ve found on employees who unplug entirely show that they come back more productive and invigorated. Putting a hard pause on work, emails, notifications, and to-do lists can increase creativity and decrease burnout.
For the last three years in February, I’ve spent three weeks in Huatulco, Mexico with private coaching clients on a getaway retreat. Every day is filled with sport or water activities, delicious food, a conversation around health and productivity strategies and 2-3 focused hours on their most significant business needs. These have included email behaviors, time management, and scheduling, navigating travel saboteurs, task prioritization, and outsourcing.
One of these weeks is a vacation for my husband and me, but this year was no holiday. My business had grown, and I hadn’t accounted for the overload of responsibilities. Great problem to have 🙂
I work at the resort 2-3 hours a day to get a discount to pass on to the clients. I work with the client in structured coaching sessions, participate in activities and entertainment, and have all meals with them. I still did virtual Zoom sessions with my other coaching clients, fielded sales calls and had Discovery Sessions. I went to bed late because I wanted to watch or participate in the evening entertainment and got up early to get my workout in before starting the day.
By the time it was my week of vacation with my husband, I was behind with work, exhausted and needed private time in a big way. I am an extrovert who needs a LOT of me time. For the first time in three years, I wasn’t able to pause. I didn’t end the week like my clients had, with massive uplevels, feeling like they had significant breakthroughs or ready to go back to work with renewed vigor. Instead, I was buffering.
I was that video that drives you crazy when the WiFi is slow. I had to keep going backward to move forward just a tiny bit. I felt like I couldn’t just play. I was stuck spinning and spinning trying to move. I played catch-up the first several days and wasn’t able to fully let my brain rest. I didn’t do any non-urgent tasks and certainly didn’t spend time on things that didn’t give me ROI, but had calls and emails from clients or prospects that I needed to follow-up with.
It was time I needed for myself and my business. This wasn’t the fault of my clients and hadn’t been an issue before, but I needed a new strategy.
I needed to disengage to have space and boredom to get creative. I needed to pause.
Yep. The sparks come when we’re bored. When we’re continually entertaining ourselves with our phone on a 15-second elevator ride, listening to podcasts while we cook, clean, drive or exercise, and jump right into one book when we’ve finished another, we don’t let ourselves get bored. Our brain needs this space to process what it’s learned or heard, and I was guilty of jumping from one to the next and not opening up to nothingness.
I’ve already booked for two weeks in Fall of 2018 and three in February 2019. How will I change this for next year?
- Give myself at least 24 hours before clients or my husband arrives so I have me-time and schedule guests for six days instead of seven.
- Use my contract coaches to take over the virtual sessions for my clients back home.
- Change my hours at the resort to give myself an extra 30-45 minutes of sleep.
These three things will allow me to pause instead of buffer. If you are a business owner or in a position where you think you can’t entirely unplug, at least set parameters. I had two days where I did not use a device at all. This is the least amount of time I’ve ever done this, and I didn’t like it. I needed more time and so do you. When I go to Yosemite in July for my 20th wedding anniversary, I will be completely off-grid for an entire week and have already decided I will be using my other coaches to help me. The parameters can be specified days or at the least, deciding you will only process email or return calls one hour (or less) per day. Have someone hold you accountable or install an app like Freedom.to and save yourself from yourself.