The fast pace of life with numerous daily assignments makes you turn to a "complete-it-or-die" lifestyle. And most achievers don't see resting as a crucial part of their productivity — it's more like an optional reward after long and exhausting work. But they miss one fact here: you won't get desirable results and career promotions by chaining yourself to the desk. On the contrary, the chances are that you'll push yourself to a limit where career and productivity don't matter to you. However, you're holding all the cards when it comes to managing your work-life balance.
Decent rest - a pledge of top productivity without nervous breakdowns and burnouts
You may think that resting means being lazy or unproductive, but that's a mindset that stands on the way to your successful career. Relaxing is the vital need of your body, just like breathing, and you should never ignore an opportunity to wind down. Here are the main reasons why decent rest is essential to stay productive and creative:
Rest to improve your cognitive skills
First, and probably the most important reason for you as an achiever, resting improves your brain performance. The brain itself is like an endlessly working "machine" that is awake even when you sleep. And even when you take a short break from work, it processes information like a powerful computer. You may think that you're just lazy. Still, your brain continues to work, helping you solve complicated issues, get creative ideas, and restore your motivation.
Science also shows that resting periods are essential for your brain. A well-rested brain maintains your good mood, helps you concentrate, and completes more tasks in less time. So instead of sitting with your work for hours until the moment when you're drained, take short breaks during the workday and stop working overtime. It will change your attitude to work and help you maintain a motivated approach.
Take active breaks to boost your efficiency and stay healthy
Are you one of those workaholics who sit all day behind the desk (or at the sofa while working remotely) until your work time is over? Then we have bad news for your body, since sitting for many hours is dreadful for your neck, spine, and heart. What's more, those who sit more than move through the day have a shorter lifespan than more active people.
Besides, sitting all day long can lead to inadequate blood flow, which means some parts of your body will get less oxygen than needed. And by moving frequently, you support the normal blood flow to your brain and maintain your thinking speed. So set the alarm on your PC/phone to remind you to stand up and move around your office for a bit.
Let your brain wind down to accomplish more in less time and reduce your stress
It's pretty easy to become dead-tired when you need to meet numerous deadlines. In such terms, overtime work and exhaustion may become your life companions, which can cause burnout and depression for a long time. Still, resting may help you reduce work-related stress and enjoy your job more.
Moreover, scientists have found that people's heart rate after small breaks was lower, which means that resting is a good remedy when you're overstrained. Giving your mind some time to wander will also help you create sustainable productivity, which lasts more than a few hours.
Staring at your monitor screen for hours when your ideas run dry won't help you be more productive. Instead, it will only make you anxious and stressed about wasting valuable time. And decent resting time is what can bring you back on track with tons of new ideas and solutions to issues that seemed unsolvable before.
And this benefit is backed by the facts! Basecamp has done an experiment — they implemented a 4-day work week instead of 5-day to see the effect of the long weekend on employees. And it turned out that all employees managed to accomplish as many tasks as they did during a 5-day workweek. Besides, the 3-day weekend helped them return on Monday more refreshed, happier, and productive than before.
Vacation and productivity: what's the connection between them?
In an ideal world, we all would work to live, having more time for traveling, vacations, and hobbies. We would all remember that we have only one life, and spending most of it on work without any memories aside wouldn't be an option for us. Though, the real world could be completely different. There are two main attitudes regarding vacations: when you plan and look forward to winding down or when you refuse to get even a few days off due to the crazy workload. If you have a second attitude to resting, then it means your work-life balance is in a total mess. By skipping your vacations, you could think that you manage to finish more assignments and get the promotion faster. Well, you can сoin it that way, but will more money without decent rest bring you happiness and enjoyment of life?
This question also disturbs employers, who care about their staff's mental and physical health. That's why Gallup - an analytical company - decided to research employees' vacations, happiness, and productivity. They have found out that people who regularly take vacations and earn around $25,000 a year are happier than those who make $120,000 and rarely take vacations.
At the same time, 71% of achievers who take vacations claim they're satisfied with their job, while only 46% of those who never take vacations can agree with them. No wonder some companies are even paying their employees to ensure they take a break! Nowadays, high-skilled professionals aren't those who chained themselves to their desks. Companies value those achievers who can maintain a stable workflow with high results in the long term. They simply don't want to hire those workaholics who will suffer from burnout after three months of work.
So vacations are your delightful way to become more productive at work! They allow you to get a unique experience, memories, and emotions outside of your work routine, satisfying your basic physiological needs. By spending time outside of your regular environment, staying close to your beloved people, and allowing your brain not to work, you feel that you are living. Spending quality time at the places you've always dreamed of visiting could become your additional motivation to show better performance at work and earn more for trips like that.
Your career path is not a marathon that you should run as quickly as possible. It's a life-long journey with ups and downs, and breaks like vacations are essential to keep moving. So if you were skipping your well-deserved vacation for years, maybe now it's time to book one?
Resting habits of famous achievers
With social media intruding our lives in almost every aspect, we still don't know much about real life on the other side of the screen. Thousands of success stories motivate us, and we look up to famous achievers who assured their place in history. Still, what do we know about their path to success? That Elon Musk works 120 hours per week while the CEO of LinkedIn gets up at 4 am? Such facts can make you feel unproductive, unsuccessful, and out of the line. But you know, successful people never skip their opportunities to rest, and so shouldn't you!
Let's take a sneak peek at how exactly successful people spend their vacations so that you can use their experience as an inspiration for your perfect rest time!
Take vacations regularly if possible
You may think that one week per year is enough, especially when you're an essential part of your team at work. But the importance of your job doesn't mean you should work endlessly.
If your position allows it, take vacations regularly, just like Marissa Mayer - CEO of Yahoo. After spending most of her time at work after the Yahoo launch, she realized the importance of regular breaks for her productivity. Now she is taking a one-week vacation every four months to wind down and recover her energy after months of busywork.
Take "thinking days"
Sometimes when you have too much on your mind, there's no need to take a week off and go to the Bahamas. Just one day off can be enough to clean up your thoughts and free more space for creative ideas, extraordinary solutions, and life-changing decisions. John Donahoe, eBay's CEO, calls them thinking days. He thinks about everything that needs his attention in work and personal life. When John takes one of them, he usually takes a whiteboard. It helps him grasp his priorities and remind himself not to focus on the things he can't change.
Make a digital detox during vacations
If you can't take your eyes off your smartphone or laptop when having a vacation, then you don't rest. You open the door back to work with numerous work chats, a full inbox, and access to some work tasks by unlocking your device. We're not even mentioning social media with stressful news, junk info, and distractions!
So if you want to have a genuinely refreshing vacation that will help you get back on track, then combine it with a "digital detox." Richard Branson, billionaire and entrepreneur from the UK, stick to this habit. Every day during vacation, he puts off his devices and takes a notebook instead. Then he writes down all the ideas that come to his head, which helps him find new solutions and insights for old problems.
Despite all the perks of taking vacations, some people can't rest for too long without working. In addition, you may not be able to take frequent breaks because of your company policy. What can you do then to have a decent rest without feeling unproductive or miserable? The answer is hidden beneath the combination of two words - "work" and "vacation."
The power of workation: a solution for perfect work-life balance
Imagine your usual workweek: sitting at the same place, seeing the same people in your office, watching the same scenery from your window. That routine can feel like a trap as if you're walking in circles with no way out and no option to take a full vacation. It makes you stressed, anxious and disrupts your productivity. In that case, workation is an excellent option for changing the surroundings, having new impressions, and still coping with your work.
Having a workation means that you travel to another city or country to mix travels with work. During the first half of the day, you focus on work, while the rest of your time, you can explore new places, enjoy some tasty food, and all other perks of vacation.
Workation originated in 2012 when large corporations introduced this option as one of the bonuses for their employees. But the format was a little different: several teams went out of town or to another country together for a week to work, relax and unite.
For example, the US company ZenPayroll (now Gusto) took all employees for five days to San Francisco twice a year. There they rented a house, organized hackathons, dealt with work affairs, and in their free time, they went on hikes, scheduled film screenings, and evenings of board games.
Sabina Gault, CEO of Konnect Public Relations, has implemented a similar concept for her employees. She periodically organized trips out of town for employees: a ski resort, a sea cruise, wine tasting. Sabina's goal was to show employees that Konnect PR is more than just a job.
Workation will be an excellent solution for:
- Digital nomads who don't like to stay in one place and often travel the world with their work.
- Busy achievers who don't have time for a full-time vacation.
- Small teams and companies that want to recover from quarantine and are looking for inspiration.
- Large companies that still provide such bonuses to their employees.
If you're worried that your projects or budget will suffer during vacation, then opt for a workation! You'll be able to visit new places and have new experiences, inspiration, and retreat while staying in touch with your essential projects and not wasting a fortune. Plus, if vacation days are limited, you can take as many workstations as you want (if your boss isn't against it). And to make this time even more memorable and pleasant, you can offer your friends or partner a chance to take a workation together. It will allow you to create valuable memories and work productively, motivating yourself by looking at other hard-working people around you.
Tips for setting up a super productive workation:
- Plan ahead. Going on a workation means that you need to move to another place for some time. For weeks or months. Therefore, it is worth deciding what to do with your apartment, mail, bills, and pets (if you have them). When you solve all organizational matters, then you should book a hotel or flat ahead to avoid any complications when you arrive. Plus, don't forget to talk with your boss or manager about a workation. They can assist you or share their reasons why you can't do it right now.
- Move for at least two weeks. Stability is essential to work productively, and moving every two or three days will be exhausting rather than energizing. During the workation, you need time to settle in, adapt, set up work processes. Plus, don't forget that you should also observe the new area! That's why longer workations are more effective and refreshing for your energy.
- Establish a daily routine. Moving to another place and not seeing anything isn't what you dream of, is it? If you want to cope with all work tasks and still have time for leisure, you need to set up some rules for yourself. For example, your plan could be to work from 8 AM to 4 PM; then you can spend the whole evening the way you like. Plus, avoid distractions during work by turning off your phone and letting your close friends and relatives know about your deep work hours.
- Make a budget. Living in another city or country can be unpredictable and unexpectedly expensive. Be ready to set aside money for housing, coworking space (if needed), food, insurance, and other options. Plus, make sure you will earn more than you spend because you can choose a cheaper place or another country with lower prices.
Working and resting options are more flexible than ever. You shouldn't miss an opportunity to enjoy a well-deserved rest! Taking a vacation will help you recover, replenish your energy stocks, and get a powerful creativity boost. Plus, it's an opportunity to become closer to your family and friends if you're always stuck in the office. Though, if you're not about deep rest, and your brain needs to work from time to time, you can go to a workstation. It allows you to combine traveling with productive work - an excellent solution for you as a busy achiever.
- Workplace Experiments (2008)
- Taking Regular Vacations May Help Boost Americans' Well-Being (2014)
- Vacation Much More Important Than 'Nice to Have' (2014)
- How Richard Branson and Other Leaders Take Time OffIt's a lesson on why everyone should learn to relax.(2016)
- 4 Ways to Win the War for Originator Talent (2020)
- Skiing by Day, Hacking by Night: Welcome to the New Era of Work Retreats (2014)