I’ve had more than a handful of business friends utter this phrase to me over the years. Each time they say it, they fold their arms and put their shoulders back so they have to furrow their brows and stare down the bridge of their nose as the words come out. Each time I cringe. Even worse, this brag often happens in a business meeting, while their family is on vacation and it’s presented as if I should respect our partnership more because they are abandoning their family for it.
However, taking vacations not only makes you more productive, it makes you live longer. People that don’t take vacations are three times more likely to experience a fatal heart attack. They also face a host of other health obstacles, all of which are themselves productivity killers. You quite literally might be gaining ten more years of productivity in exchange for ten days of sitting in a beach chair.
This is definitely an area of life where journaling and collecting some data about yourself comes in handy. My vacation diminishing returns slope is steep. I love checking into the hotel and getting the lay of the land. Days one-three are usually amazing and then I get anxious to get home. So for me taking a few 3-4 day trips per year is a better recharge than one 10-15 day trip. Others can’t unwind and turn off for the first 3-4 days and they need one long break per year to get refreshed.
I suggest scoring yourself on productivity, focus, creativity and happiness (and anything else you wish to track) for an entire month. * Just rate yourself 1-10 on the metrics of your choosing and get averages. This data is even more valuable if you have a wearable you trust that lets you add in heart rate, blood pressure, stress and sleep quality. Then do the same thing the week before a vacation, during and the week after. Make sure to add a more traditional journal narrative while you are there.
Hopefully after a few trips you can start to uncover secrets that weren’t so obvious on the surface. Was one trip more active than another? Were alcohol or other things involved? Who were you with? And so on. You might find some surprising ways that different sorts of trips impact various areas of your life. I assume it’s not just my neurosis and we all stress out during the planning phase of a trip. How much of that could be alleviated if you had evidence of the kind of trip that would be most beneficial to you?
Or simply forget that last two paragraphs and just take a damn break. Either your friends are not as impressed by your “dedication” as you think they are or they’re just assholes. Maybe you’ll make some new ones on that great trip I sincerely hope you are planning.
Bonus Tip - If you track your scores in Google Drive or Excel it's fun to see which scores improve or worsen during different times of the week. If you're really ambitious try doing it several times each day and you might find your creativity, mood or productivity peaks at certain times of the day. This may help you design a schedule more conducive to your personality.