Going on holiday is a major key to productivity and effectiveness. But many people wear not taking their full annual leave allocation like a badge of honour. “I’m just too busy to go on holiday,” they say, with pride. “I haven’t had a holiday in 6/12/18 months. I have too much to do”.
Of course, sometimes these things I said in despair, and not with pride. You get to the end of your annual leave cycle, and realise several days’ holiday will be lost. But there are at least three good reasons why I have taken my full annual leave allocation every year for as long as I can remember.
1. To rest.
It seems obvious! But I need reminding. I need to replenish my energy. My body, mind and soul need to stop work. I need to rest. In recent years, I have noticed how my tolerance levels drop as my energy gets used up. I need to top it up again. As a Christian, I also use holiday time as a kind of sabbatical, delighting and resting in him by being out in nature and by reading more.
2. To respect boundaries.
My computer, my laptop, my tablet and my smartphone are all important to my work. They are part of my creative work. But I must use them intentionally, or they can quickly take over my life. It is essential I put boundaries around them. Holiday times are occasions when I can do this. I switch off my work emails. I put my smartphone on Do Not Disturb. Often, I disengage from social media, by having a Facebook fast, for example. Disconnecting in this way is good for my soul.
3. To remember I’m not indispensable.
Holidays are a good time for me to notice how God’s Kingdom manages perfectly well without me! The world goes on. The Salvation Army keeps working. Other people get on with things in my absence. I am not indispensable! I can use holiday time as a way of carrying my responsibilities more lightly.
Schedule the Holiday Big Rocks First
Stephen Covey speaks about scheduling the big rocks before the gravel. The big rocks are your important priorities and should go in your schedule first. Since taking holiday is so important to my effectiveness and productivity, for a number of years I have scheduled my holidays before anything else. At the very least, developing Michael Hyatt’s idea of an Ideal Week, I have an idea in mind of the Ideal Holiday Schedule. My wife Gail and I usually take a week’s holiday in February/March, before Easter; a week in the Spring (usually May); an extended break (10 or 11 nights) in the Summer (usually August); another week in the Autumn (usually the end of October) and the days between Christmas and New Year. This seems to space our holidays out quite well. These go into our calendar pretty early in the new year. Otherwise what happens is that our work and/or corps/church calendar get filled with activities, and we end up with no gaps between activities to take holiday.
So this week, Gail and I have been on the North Norfolk coast. As you can see from the photo, it’s been bitterly cold. But I have rested. I have respected my boundaries, and I have remembered I am not indispensable. I’m looking forward to returning to work on Sunday, just in time for Holy Week.
What about you? Do you see holidays as essential to your effectiveness and productivity? Or are you happy to lose them to get your work done? Why not join in the comment discussion below?