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3 ways to make the most of your break from work

The festive season is approaching with alarming speed, and with the madness that seemingly has everything due by Christmas, it’s easy for things to become a bit of a blur, writes Stuart J. Barnett.

The festive season is approaching with alarming speed, and with the madness that seemingly has everything due by Christmas, it’s easy for things to become a bit of a blur, writes Stuart J. Barnett.

So whether you are simply planning a year-end break or actually going on a holiday, the key is to get the most out of the time away from work. Here are my three tips for making the most of your time off:

1. Ease up before your last day at work

That mad dash can really fire up the adrenaline and, knowing that a break is imminent, it’s easy to get trapped into smashing through and hitting the wall once you stop.

Crashing exhausted can put you in immediate conflict with the best laid plans of family and friends; so now is not the time to walk all over your work/life balance practices.

Apply those stress reduction techniques – whether that’s simply pacing yourself, mindfulness, sticking to the exercise routine, or whatever gets you in a calmer state.

If you are full tilt, ease up a little and see if you can wind down to the break rather than crash landing into the holiday period.

2. Set intentions about what you want from your time off

You’re not working, surely that’s enough?

Possibly, but there is a big difference between not working and having a good break – recharging those personal resources. It may be with all the demands that the festive season brings you can find yourself under similar pressures to work. Clarity around what you intend for your break, what your expectations are, can go a long way towards not just letting events unfold but turning things in your favour.

Intentions can be set around what you want to do, who you are going to do it with, and how you want to do it. Then it can be useful to ask yourself some questions along the way to make sure things are going to plan.

Marshall Goldsmith has four questions he asks executives about their day, and while it is aimed at being effective at work, I think they can be really useful while on holiday:

• Did I do my best to be happy?
• Did I do my best to find meaning?
• Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
• Did I do my best to be fully engaged?

These questions will mean something different for all of us, but being able to answer them in the positive can go a long way to making the most of our time off. And that doesn’t preclude simply doing nothing. Having down time where you completely let-go can be very therapeutic.

3. Stay in the moment

The claims for mindfulness may be a tad overblown, but despite it becoming the corporate fad du jour, it really does have a lot to offer. Being in the moment, enjoying the moment, and being able to focus on what you are currently doing are just as important when away from work as when you are being paid to be productive.

And that is what mindfulness is at its simplest: being in the moment.

If you’ve not explored mindfulness, then time away can be a great opportunity to get acquainted. For a great introduction check out The Potential Project, recorded at Microsoft.

Hope you have a great break. See you on the other side.

Stuart J. Barnett is a thought partner and executive coach who works with senior lawyers and high-performing teams.


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