Holidays are a magical time. Rest after a while of just work-work-work, it is a time of giving and connecting to friends and family...or even just a breather in life, generally. They are wonderful. However, often holidays only remain magical in theory.
The number one reason is not being able to strike a balance between productivity and rest. It can obviously be difficult, owing to the fact that you have inlaws and spouses and they want your time, after all, it is called family time for a reason. If you find yourself surrounded by people who tell you how to get the most of the holiday, you may want to decide what is it that YOU want. Let us hep you.
To understand how to recapture this opportunity and make our holidays both restful and productive, it’s important to first understand our tendencies. Among working professionals, we have found that there are three types of “holiday time misusers.” Which one are you?
1. The couch potato
This type of person sends one last email and then turns off their phone. Their basic goal during the holidays is to binge watch as many TV shows as they can! These folks are the ones that go, "Why don't I feel relaxed?"at the end of their vacay because they assume that being inactive will make them feel well rested.
Why is it that a couch potato holiday feels so unsatisfying when it appears to be so relaxing? The reason is that while you do need some time to disengage from productive activities, you also have a host of other needs that you have been neglecting for the last several months that aren’t replenished by “vegging out.” You need meaningful social interaction, physical activity, and active contemplation, among other things.
2. Holiday humbug
This type of person works through the holidays. Cramming in work and email and calls in between personal and family time, they basically don't take the vacation. It is just a namesake. The reason behind their unhappiness is obvious - they don't take the damn vacation!
If it’s so obvious that this is not a good idea, why is it so easy to become a holiday humbug? Certainly, sometimes it’s beyond our control: our boss or business simply demands it. However, for the chronically overwhelmed and over-tasked professional, there is often a more subversive reason. The holidays present an opportunity that is too difficult to pass up: the opportunity to catch up. Time without back-to-back-to-back meetings, a steady stream of incoming emails, and an ever-increasing number of requests are almost non-existent for the working professional, particularly those in management.
The workaholidayic is the literal opposite to the holiday humbug. All they do is holiday — without any work! They travel miles and hours to meet every family member who will accept their offer, leaving themselves no time to stop, rest, or be alone. When they finally do get time to themselves, they are too tired to do anything but collapse in exhaustion.
The only possible cause for this is no self control. In other cases, it’s because the habits they have developed at work just continue to drive them forward.
What do you do about it?
Once you’ve recognized your tendencies, the challenge is to figure out a strategy for charting a healthier course.
1. First things first, manage your time
Set the clock around how much you need to sleep, time meant for your family, how much you’ll allow yourself to do “work work,” among other categories of importance to you. As long as you stick to this, you will always have that good feeling at the end of the day. Prioritize your time accordingly.
2. Clear your mental inbox
If you’re as busy as most are, there’s a good chance that you haven’t taken the time to sufficiently process your past year. Not processing your experiences is like leaving the email inbox of your mind overflowing: it taxes your cognitive load and reduces your ability to calmly and effectively address new experiences.
Whether processing looks like finding a quiet place with a journal or having deep conversations with friends or family, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you take the time to clear your mental inbox.
3. Focus on the how
Instead of setting new goals for the next year blindly, think about how you can achieve the already existing ones. Even if you are setting new goals, do focus on how to achieve them rather than just making empty promises to yourself that will eventually lead to even more mental cluttering.
Execution plans like “I will work out three times a week for 20 minutes before going to work” may not sound impressive, but you’ll be more likely to lose the weight you want with this plan than ending your holiday with only this goal, “I will lose 20 pounds by March.”
4. Create healthy traditions
Developing meaningful, productive, and restful traditions around the holidays will guarantee that we do the things that actually ensure we have the holidays we want.
Productive and restful holiday traditions also help shield us against the demands of the many other people in our lives who have their own ideas for how we should spend our holidays. People generally aren’t too quick to push back against established holiday traditions.
Who knows when you'll get a good long vacation. Grab it before it passes away.
If you have any views or stories that you would like to share with us, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org