As I sit here late at night after a five-day canoe trip I’m reminded of a whitewater kayaking trip I took to Mexico years ago. Yes, the paddling was awesome, and we went off about 50 waterfalls in eight days (45 of them on one river) but what I’m reminded of right now is the pace at which we traveled.

Our days in the boats were frenetic. Up early to eat quickly, then board a bus for a long ride and five hours on the river, to be back just in time for dinner.

But the part that stands out in my memory is our decision to show up one day early and stay one day late. Unlike most of the other people on the trip we didn’t fly out the day the guided portion of the trip ended, or early the next morning. We had a whole day after kayaking to … do nothing, or everything … basically we could do just what we wanted.

At the start of our trip, we walked around and sat outside drinking beer in Mexico. At the end of the trip we took a long walk, visited a local aquarium and mall, and found an outdoor market tucked away behind buildings.

Those two days stick out because they made the whole trip feel relaxed, and I think of them now because I don’t have that day of decompression after five days in the back country. As I write this, tomorrow is directly back into client work with expectations high and items that need to get checked off my task list.

That’s a mistake on my part. One I’m planning to not make again. From now on if I’m off for more than two days I’m planning a day at the end with … nothing planned. Sit around the house, grab a coffee with my family and just relax after rushing around having ‘fun’ for the days allotted.

Do you plan those rest days after vacation? What about getting to a conference a day early with no plans? When are you going to try it?

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2 responses to “Pacing your time off”

  1. Athlone Avatar

    That make sense, being on holiday is often hard(er) work than actual work or at least you’re activities are often more strenuous than sitting behind a desk all day staring at a computer screen. Which is a good thing as it’s a change. I’ve not taken much vacation in a long time but this December I’m planning to take a few weeks off. I’ll definitely not be rushing back to work without decompressing a day or two before.

    At the moment though the nature of my work forces me to monitor things even if I’m not physically present. This keeps work in the forefront of the mind not allowing me to completely unwind, something I’m planning to remedy in future. I’d love to be able to take off a month or even two and not even think about work at all.

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      So the question is, how can you change your work so you don’t need to monitor things all the time? Can you hire someone or do you know someone you trust that can do the monitoring in exchange for you being on call while their on vacation next time?