I’ve spent the last two and a half weeks on vacation – away from my email, work and work-related apps on my phone. Why? Because it’s summer and my fingers needed a break!

Balance in life is what I strive for, so time off and travel are necessary at this time. I love traveling to Asia, so this year, Bali, Indonesia was where I spent my time off. I took a workshop, made new friends from around the globe and lived as a local on the island.  I believe strongly that life should be balanced. Lots of work needs time off, not just a weekend, but dedicated time off to recalibrate, and realign.

As of today, I’m back in the office and completely refreshed! After analyzing my time away, I noticed how healing it was for me and also for my business. Taking time away and partaking in leisurely activities has benefits for my own mindset and life and for the business.

Here are some of my insights.

Insight #1:

Being around new people, experiences and sights provides new meaning, new creativity and new energy and happiness to life and therefore work.

family-on-motorbike
Families on motorbikes in Bali

In America, we take less vacation time off than any other country. So much so, that a non-profit exists to advocate for taking time off. It’s called Project: Time Off. They have pulled together some great stats on the state of Vacation and have even compiled a report about it, link below.

When we stay in our comfort zone, we stay comfortable and the same. Research shows that being exposed to new and different experiences actually boosts your creativity. For example, one study showed that hiking in nature disconnected from all devices for four days led to a 50 percent spike in creativity.

For me, the sights, colors, textures, languages, and food have had a profound effect on my creativity. Observing how a culture lives, breathes and works has been informative and inspiring.

One day, I tagged along with my chef friend to the local market. Up at 6 am to hop on the back of a truck to ride to the locals’ market for local supplies.

Brain imaging studies show that doing nothing, being idle, daydreaming, and relaxing create alpha waves in the brain that are key to creative insights and innovative breakthroughs. And research by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson has shown that positive emotions the kind we feel on a relaxing, playful vacation make us more inventive and able to think outside the box.

What You Do During Your Vacation Does Matter

It does matter how you spend your time on vacation. Spending idle time or doing leisurely activities does have the most benefit for your brain, body, and when you get back, your work.

Insight #2

Taking time off, meaning, no email or work while on vacation is essential to the success of your time off. 

Sabine Sonnentag, professor of organizational psychology at the University of Mannheim in Germany, finds that the inability to detach from work comes with symptoms of burnout, which of course impact well-being and productivity. However, disengaging from work when you are not at work, she finds, makes us more resilient in the face of stress and more productive and engaged at work. Even a short weekend getaway can provide significant work-stress recovery, while longer trips away provide even more relief.

After a vacation, 64 percent of people say that they are “refreshed and excited to get back to my job.”

https://www.kornferry.com/press/15179

It’s a win-win both for employees and organizations alike, especially given the fact that unused vacation costs U.S. business $224 billion per year.  

For me, water has a profound effect on my well being. Hiking to waterfalls with friends and scuba diving in the ocean are my happy places!

In addition, I took a workshop and engaged with a global group of friends.

Work is Better After Travel

Insight #3

When coming back from vacation, especially after including travel or other leisurely activity, the work is better after a break.

The employees spending more of their vacation time traveling may also be more successful when they are back in the office. More than half (52%) of mega-travelers reported receiving a promotion in the last two years compared to Americans who use some (44%) or little to none (44%) of their time to travel.

Encouraging employees to take time off has a great effect on business.

According to Project: Time Off research found that employees who reported that their company encourages vacation (68 percent) are much happier with their jobs than those who work at places where either vacation is discouraged or managers are ambivalent about taking time off (42 percent). They are also more likely to use all of their vacation time (77 percent compared with 51 percent).

Just ensure you advocate for complete time-off, no need to check emails, etc.

Resources: 

State of American Vacation, 2018 by Project: Time Off
https://www.ustravel.org/sites/default/files/media_root/document/2018_Research_State%20of%20American%20Vacation%202018.pdf

The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley
https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_you_should_take_more_time_off_from_work

Society for Human Resource Managementhttps://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/workers-taking-more-vacation-.aspx