Today’s blogpost is by Leadership and Management Director, Emma Mitchell, a People Development professional with 2 decades plus experience of training and coaching business professionals from many sectors. Her focus is developing people and maximising their potential for leadership through coaching and training facilitation.
This weekend is the longest public holiday we’ll have in the UK until Christmas, over 8 months away, and we think you should make the most of it.
As regular readers will know we’re great believers in the Work Hard, Play Hard ethos and with a long weekend looming, we thought we would give you some handy ideas for optimising free time.
First, let’s take a quick detour to Japan. Have you heard of the term “karoshi”? It means “death due to overwork” and there’s even an organisation called the National Defense Counsel for Victims of Karoshi.
A 2016 report examining karoshi cases and their cause of death found that more than 20% of people in a survey of 10,000 Japanese workers said they worked at least 80 hours of overtime a month. The organisation estimates that around 10,000 people die from overwork every year in Japan. Even more impetus for taking a day or two off every now and then…
But there’s a problem. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in the book ‘Flow’, says that studies show people to be happier at work – even when they say that they would rather be at home.
We think the solution is to put more thought into spending days off. Work provides a practical and mental structure for a good part of our weeks. Whereas leisure, if it is not planned, can end up as aimless hours watching a mediocre production on Netflix or freeform Googling.
We’ve blogged a lot over the years about working more productively and optimising your skills and probably haven’t posted so much about kicking back. Although we did wax lyrical about the benefits of boredom last week!
If you seriously relax this long weekend we’re convinced you’ll have more creative energy to apply next week.
Everyone has different activities that help them to relax. You may enjoy reading books or listening to podcasts or audiobooks and spending some solitary time, but you could equally enjoy a loud night out with friends at a pub or restaurant.
Its horses for course, but we think there are some common principles for taking time off better.
Divide your work and leisure time – Draw a line between time for work and time for leisure (admittedly harder if you’re a work-at-home freelancer). If you work on your days off (something a lot of us are guilty of), your body can be lazy during work days to compensate. One way to avoid this is to work at certain times. For example, make a pact with yourself to stop working at 6.30pm and not start before 8.30am.
Plan ahead – Some people work without to-do lists, plans or goals. Others need structure to move forward. You may be completely spontaneous when you take time off or you may have more fun when you plan ahead, which has become much easier in recent years with online booking now the norm unless you’re trying to get a ticket for Glastonbury or equally popular events!
Keep your bookshelf full – If you enjoy reading, a book can be an excellent way to avoid wasting your time off. If you don’t enjoy reading, try an audiobook or start listening to a podcast. You can do something else at the same time and maybe learn something new too.
Keep an events calendar – Whether your preference is art, sports or history there’s often plenty of potential activities you may want to go along to. See if you can book at least an event every month to ensure you’re never out of options for interesting things to do.
Join clubs and classes – And not for a qualification, that could be too stressful. Learn something you’ve always wanted to try out: such as ballroom dancing, martial arts, French cooking, public speaking or playing a musical instrument. Don’t set yourself milestones, learn without pressure to take your mind off results and just focus on the process.
Have a slow day – Just aim to be as slow as possible. Wake up early and have a leisurely cooked breakfast (blueberry pancakes and maple syrup perhaps?), several hours reading and walk or take public transport (off-peak naturally!). It can refresh your mind to aim for the opposite of a typically busy day.
Meditate – And we don’t mean sitting uncomfortably on a bamboo mat for three hours chanting ‘Om’. Just take some extra time with your thoughts. File away those ideas that have been jumping around in your head but you haven’t had the time to sift through.
Look at the big picture – Spend the whole day reviewing your life (not just work). What is going well and what isn’t? Plan, set big goals or completely change your approach. This could really help to inject new energy into goals that might dissipate if you don’t put the time in now.
(re) Connect – Go through your e-mail inbox and message several people you haven’t talked to or met up with in a while. Call up old friends (yes you can use that smartphone to talk into too!) and arrange a meetup. Don’t let relationships dissolve because you are too busy.
Work hard, play hard – Make your most intense workday the one before your day off. Then you will have more of an incentive to get more done, knowing you have the entire day (or next 4 days) off to relax.
Try a half-day holiday – At other times of the year sometimes an entire day off is impossible. How about having a half or quarter day off instead? Go and see that exhibition you wanted to catch on a quiet Wednesday afternoon from work or savour a matinee at your favourite cinema.
There’s probably umpteen things you’ve probably been meaning to do. Seize the day and do some of them over the weekend or plan a longer term goal over the next 12 months. Whatever you do everyone at 10Eighty hopes you have a great weekend!