There’s More to Life Than Work, Says the Workaholic Working on Vacation
When I think of vacation, I think of mornings without alarm clocks. I think of beach days, playing tourist, and relaxing. I don’t think about lugging my laptop with me to check emails or stay on top of the latest trends.
But for many of us, particularly the self-employed and the side hustlers, we tend to take work everywhere. We find ourselves busily working in waiting rooms, at stoplights, and even on vacation. We need an out-of-office sign, but really — are we ever out of the office? Or did we just haul it with us?
I know I’m guilty of this. Because I freelance, I often find myself getting work done and meeting deadlines even when I travel. I work it so that it doesn’t cut into my sightseeing or beach relaxing, but there’s something to be said for having a day off … that’s actually a day off. No work. Just the outside world.
In a world where being a workaholic is lauded as a virtue, it may feel radical to actually unplug and enjoy a holiday without at least checking in. But how much balance do we have in our lives when home isn’t allowed to intrude in our workdays, but work constantly butts in at home?
This idea has really come home to me lately. It may seem unrelated, but I was thinking about my fitness journey. I, too, have joined the Peloton cult, and it has been essential in helping me reach my fitness goals. I started with a fairly rigorous schedule, doing multiple workouts a day, and I was hitting one personal record after another. Until I hit a plateau. Until I started struggling.
Why is this relevant? I had to learn the value of rest days — days where I do absolutely nothing but lie around like a couch potato. I also had to learn the value of recovery days — days where any workout I do is light, particularly after a heavy workout day.
I’ve been wondering if I shouldn’t apply this same philosophy to my work schedule. I do have light days, those days where I can recover from a heavy workload. But do I ever really rest? Or do I cheat on my rest days with just a little bit of work?
Like, right now for instance when I’m off work while my children are visiting their dad. It’s pouring down rain, and it’s the perfect day to snuggle up with a book or watch a good movie. I have a delicious morning muffin and a hot cup of coffee sitting beside my abandoned book as I … work. Because we’ve learned to put work first, even when we should work in a rest day.
There is actual value in rest days. Science backs this up. Rest days help us be more productive when we return to work. They help us be more creative. Resting isn’t being lazy; it’s being smart enough to realize that if we don’t give ourselves a break, our work will suffer.
Yes, yes, I know. We’re all about that hustle and grind lifestyle. But the hustle needs to grind to a stop for the occasional rest day where we don’t lug around the laptop. We don’t check our emails or make a quick call into work. We don’t do anything but revel in the rest. Sleep in. Take a nap. Hit the beach, if we can. Do whatever it is that feeds our souls so that when we get back to work, we can do it fully present — refreshed and restored.
Corporate culture and Western culture in general will tell us that we should keep working. It will tell us to use our vacation days but stay plugged into work. It will applaud us for being hard workers when what we’re actually doing is running ourselves into the ground in service of industries that see as dispensable and replaceable.
My fitness journey requires the rest and recovery days to help me continue to make strides toward my goals. My work journey requires them as well. It’s time to reimagine our lives where rest days are simply a part of our work schedule, not days when we say we’re resting but just keep on working instead.
It’s still raining, but I’m not going to keep working. Consider this my out-of-office message. And maybe get yourself an out-of-office message, too.
More of my work to read while I’m on vacation…
Not Wanting to Lose Her isn’t the Same as Wanting to Keep Her
Three better ways to try to save your relationship
Life is Short. Burn the Bridge.
Why you shouldn’t feel guilty for discarding toxic connections