Any passionate small business owner will tell you they can realistically go for about 15 minutes of beach lounging before some work thought pops into their mind. Whether that's because the iPhone started buzzing or the next big idea hit them, the end result is the same. Gone are the days of running off to a faraway place and leaving the "work" world behind. With vacation so rare, micro-vacations have never been more valuable!
On my most recent spontaneous two-night work trip to San Francisco, my drink meeting on my first night there got canceled. I was deciding whether to quickly fill that time with another meeting or book a massage and order room service. Those 50 minutes of massage were bliss (followed by a look of horror on my masseuses' face post-massage when she asked me what I did, whether I was done traveling, and if I spend too much time on a computer. Apparently it was obvious.). Combine that brief massage with room service, curling up to watch a movie on TV, and an incredible nights sleep for once, and it was magical to say the least. I was absolutely energized and glowing for the next full day of meetings.
Here's a picture of the soaking tubs on the roof of Hotel Vitale in San Francisco. Can't you just picture yourself cell phone and laptop free staring into the stunning blue sky for half an hour before hopping back into reality?
Those few hours of an unexpected break left me more relaxed and rejuvenated than my attempt at a more traditional "vacation" recently – taking a week to go diving in Indonesia only to find myself working whenever possible in between dives due to the Wi-Fi. Leaving work behind for days is more stressful to me than working! I realized I can't walk away from my business completely for days, but I CAN step away for a few hours here and there.
5 Vacation Hour Rules:
1. It's about CONTRAST. Find something you can devote yourself to without distraction, something that's not part of your everyday life and routine. So if you're a gym junkie, your vacation may be going to get a massage. If you're a shopaholic, take a day to prepare a feast at home. Never go out? Then set up a boy's/girl's night out.
2. Be realistic about TIME. How long can you really be gone? The idea is to truly let go, which you can't do if you know that five seconds after your lunch at the beach you have to rush to eight back-to-back meetings and work on a presentation. Don't add stress by overscheduling around your vacation.
3. It should be FUN... It's a perfect opportunity or excuse to do the things you've always been curious about but have yet to indulge in. It could be trying a new restaurant, learning to surf, or going to a completely non-work related event/musical/gala.
4. ...but don't kid yourself. Do what you need to to keep work from taking over your precious hours of "me" time, but if it's going to make you panic more not checking your BlackBerry every 10 minutes – compromise! Check it, but maybe just don't let yourself reply to the messages until vacation time is over.
5. Do NOT bring anyone or anything that will add stress/tension/chaos. This is pretty self explanatory!
Optional - Make it mandatory. I'm terrible at taking "real" vacations – things that are completely for me and don't somehow fit into my work/play mix of things that end up as content for NOTCOT. Perhaps that's the blessing/curse of building a lifestyle business around all my favorite worldly pleasures! So I suggest easing into it, and possibly making mandatory vacation hours WEEKLY, versus vacation days annually... it may be a lot easier to actually achieve a better work life balance.
I believe there's nothing wrong with being what some may see as a "workaholic"... so long as you passionately love what you do every day (sure we all have our down moments, but as long as those are rare, you're doing it right!). And why fight the fact that you can't really stop a workaholic from working? Embrace it, and realize that while it may not be stoppable, it's certainly PAUSE-able... so sneak in some mandatory micro-vacations to rejuvenate you when possible, whether that's weekly, monthly, quarterly, I leave that to you!