One of the benefits of pivoting back to full-time employment is taking time off. I recently spent an entire week at the beach. It was the first time I took that sort of time off on my own accord. My destination was Ocean City, MD, the mandatory vacation of my childhood.
Here are some lessons I learned after my vacation last month:
1. Taking time off makes me more productive
When I was a freelancer and contractor, I was always working. I mean always. I may have worked most every weekend for two maybe three years as a freelancer. Getting back to work was made a bit easier because my manager and many co-workers were still on vacation but I did indeed come back refreshed and ready to work. With the exception of checking my work email a few times, I didn’t do any actual work. Going on vacation in mid-August also meant that I didn’t return to a full inbox either.
2. Making an ambitious reading list is a waste of time
I went to the beach with a nice size reading list for entertainment and professional reading. That list was all for naught because there were a few days on the beach I tuned in the sand and the waves more than I did reading. All said, I did get some leisure reading in, while avoiding reading the news as much as possible, along with only reading one book about writing. My other planned professional reading spent the vacation lounging on my Kindle.
3. Communicating vacation plans two weeks out helped
I made sure to communicate my vacation plans to my manager and team a few weeks out helped set expectations with my co-workers that I’d be out. Thankfully, I work on a pretty self-sufficient team in a company that’s vacation friendly so there were no issues with scheduling. When I got back to the office, it was quiet because other coworkers were on vacation. The first morning, I traded vacation highlights with a coworker and got back to work.
4. Thinking I’d get some personal writing in was nice in theory
I had hopes of fitting some personal writing into my vacation. It was a nice thought. In particular, I’ve had some short story ideas (nothing even remotely tech industry thought leadership related) I’ve been wanting to explore for a while now. Who knows I may set aside some time between Christmas and New Years to pursue this kind of writing. For years, I’ve said that the first casualty of billable work is personal writing projects. The same can be said with beach vacations.
5. Doing nothing isn’t as wrong as I used to think
I came to feel a new freedom on a vacation that wouldn’t have been possible if I still would have been contracting and freelancing. Sitting on the beach, staring at the waves, with my feet in the sand wasn’t such a bad thing. In fact, I look forward to doing the same thing on vacation next year.
What lessons did you learn from your summer vacation?