I moved to Costa Rica when I was 18 and have been running an adventure company for the last 12 years trying to find the balance of making my life a vacation and planning for the future and making a financial living. One thing I have noticed is that people love to work on vacation! Here I am going to tell you and share some interesting studies of how letting go on vacation can actually help you get more work done when you get back from vacation even if your mind is trying to convince you that you are falling behind.
One of my favorite quotes is John Lennon’s of “time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time”. Unfortunately if you say this to your boss while day dreaming at your desk you will probably get fired on the spot. It is ironic to me how our business models go against the law of nature if you think about it. If you talk to any physicist they will tell you that “energy” is the ability “to do work”. Our business models today surely go against the law of physics. We tell our employees that if there is a lot to get done then it is time to suck it up and work the long hours everyday. The problem is we might be working the hours but how efficient are we? Are we getting enough sleep? Are we having to do things twice? According to a Harvard study done last year it is thought that sleep deprivation is costing American companies $63.2 Billion dollars a year in productivity! We find ourselves checking emails in the earliest hours of the morning up until the latest hours of the night turning our work into a constant energy sucking machine. We figure we will get some down time when we go on vacation where we just do the same confirming that every hotel we stay at has wi-fi and continue to do the work so we feel like we do not fall behind.
We have to start looking at ourselves as energy holding machines and figure out ways to transfer more energy into our systems because although we might not feel sleepy or drained and think we have a work ethic unmatched by anyone, our minds are tired, they become un creative, and our bodies turn into a machine that only runs in first gear. Humans have evolved like many animals to hold and use energy is spurts. The nature of physiology is to accumulate energy through rest and food and then exert it is spurts. Modern society is trying to convince many of this constant use of energy during the day. Many recent studies show that 90 minutes of exerting energy is the max before you should start to accumulate some of that energy lost (fits nicely with the 5 small meals a day to lose weight and keep the metabolism going).
What we want is that your body and mind use it’s full potential. We need you cruising in 5th gear during work, zipping around the office, always ready for the next task at hand not feeling like you are running behind and trying to catch up with traffic because your motor is only cruising in first gear. We can not add time to the day to do more of the work we feel we need to get done. But what if we could add more energy? More Energy = Ability to do more Work and ability to get your mind and body moving at speeds some of you might not remember since high school!
In 2006 an accounting firm Ernst & Young did a study of employees showing that for every extra 10 hours of vacation their year end performance ratings were up by 8%. This is referring to real vacation time not connecting to work emails or phone calls.
It is time you start valuing vacation not as a moment where your company will get behind on work. The true value of vacation needs to be looked at as time where the most important energy sources of your company will leave to accumulate all the needed energy to return to the work place as an efficient part of your team.
President, Costa Rica Resource