By Anja van den Berg
While it’s true that holidays away can be refreshing, they can also take a lot of time, energy and money.
Reflecting on the pressures and realities of the modern world of work, Elizabeth Grace Saunders offers an alternative way to think about holidays. Saunders is a time management coach and author of How to Invest Your Time Like Money and Divine Time Management.
“A lot of people feel exhausted just thinking about planning a vacation – not just navigating personal commitments and school breaks but deciding how to delegate major projects or put work on hold.”
Because of this, some may put off their time away, figuring they’ll get to it when their schedule isn’t so demanding, only to discover at the end of the year that they haven’t used up their paid time off.
“In my experience as a time management coach and as a business owner, I’ve found that vacations don’t have to be big to be significant to your health and happiness,” Saunders explains.
“In fact, I’ve been experimenting with the idea of taking ‘microvacations’ on a frequent basis, usually every other week. These small bits of time off can increase your sense of happiness and the feeling of having room to breathe.”
From Saunders’ point of view, microvacations are times off that require you to use a day or less of vacation time.
If you’re feeling that you need a break from the day-to-day work but can’t find the time for an extended vacation, here are four ways to add microvacations to your life:
- Take a weekend – but don’t travel far
Instead of limiting vacations to week-long adventures, consider a two- to three-day trip to a destination close by. To make the trip as refreshing as possible, consider taking time off on Friday so that you can wrap up packing, get to your destination and do a few things before calling it a night. Make it clear that you will not be available during this time. There may be a few more emails than normal to process on Monday, but other than that, your microvacation shouldn’t create any big work pile-ups.
- Take a day for personal to-do items
You know that you should get certain items taken care of but finding the time is difficult with your normal schedule. Consider taking a day of annual leave to adopt an unrushed approach to all of the non-work tasks that you really want to do, but struggle to find time to do. For example, think of those appointments such as getting your hair cut, nails done, trying on dresses for the formal function coming up, oil change or doctor’s visits.
- Take an afternoon for friends or your spouse
If you’re allowed to split up your vacation time into small increments, a single afternoon once a month could easily grant you the opportunity to connect with friends who you otherwise may not see at all – or to have an uninterrupted conversation, and a long lunch, with your significant other. A few hours a month barely make a difference at work but could make a massive impact on the quality of your relationships.
- Take a remote day to decompress
Working remotely is not technically a microvacation, but it can often feel like one. If you have a commute of an hour or more each way, not having to commute can add hours to your life that you can spend on yourself. A picturesque location can also give you a new sense of calm as you approach stressful projects. “For individuals who work in offices that are loud, lack windows, or where drive-by meetings are common, working remotely can feel like a welcome respite,” Saunders says. “Plus, you’re likely to get more done.”
Instead of seeing vacation as a large event once or twice a year, consider integrating microvacations into your life on a regular basis. By giving yourself permission to take time for yourself, you can increase your sense of wellbeing.
Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2015/07/if-you-cant-take-a-vacation-get-the-most-out-of-minibreaks
Science Direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0001879114001067
Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2018/05/how-to-get-the-most-out-of-a-day-off