Here’s one of the most counter-intuitive, though effective ways to boost your productivity at work. I learned this many years ago and it does work even though it may sound like it may harm your workflow. Ready?
Every three months, FORCE yourself to take a three-day mini-vacation.
That’s really it. Every three months, put in your calendar that you will take a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday away from your life to relax and recharge. The mini-vacation doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or even be far away, making it easy and low-cost.
When you get back from your break, your productivity will be higher over the next 2-3 weeks than it had been before you left. We human beings need breaks. No matter how amazing, productive, or motivated you are, you cannot go full-bore for months and months without taking a productivity hit. This is to say nothing of your stress levels and any long-term health problems that may result.
There are only two rules for this mini-vacation recharge:
1. It must be away from your home.
You can’t just take three days off and hang around your house, nor can you plan a bunch of activities over the three-day weekend but still have to return to your house to sleep. No, you must be out of your home, out of your circle, for 72 hours. If that means you rent a cheap hotel room 30 minutes away, or stay at a friend’s house, that’s fine.
2. You can not do ANY work during those three days.
That’s right. NO WORK. No catching up on projects. No checking in with the office. No reading business materials or books. No business writing (though private reflections or a personal journal is okay). You shouldn’t even check your email, though I realize many of you will consider that “impossible.” So okay, worst case, check your email as infrequently as possible, but make a pact with yourself that you won’t respond to any work-related email until Monday morning.
Examples of a three-day, productivity-boosting, mini-vacation would be:
- A two-night trip to the beach.
- A two-night camping trip (assuming weather allows).
- A two-night stay at a local hotel, or if you can afford it, a fancy hotel suite you treat yourself to, even if it’s within your home city.
- A two-night say with friends at their place.
- A two-night stay with extended family at their place. (Be careful about the family option though; this trip is to reduce stress, not to add to it. Only hang out with family members if they relax you. Otherwise, keep family stuff to the holidays.)
- A two-night road trip.
All of the above options can be done for very little cost. If you want to spend a little more money, you can do things like a two-night trip to a fun city that’s within a 2-3 hour plane ride. For example, I live in the Pacific Northwest and often go to Vegas, San Diego, or Vancouver BC for my mini-vacations.
If you have a hard-driving Type A personality, you’re going to have to make yourself do this. You’re going to actually have to put it in your calendar and commit to doing it well in advance. Otherwise, you’ll always be “too busy” to go anywhere. A three-day vacation every three months, which is four a year. Do it.
I am always surprised at how productive and fresh I am when I get back from one of these quick vacations. You will be too.