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Recharging on Holiday

Julian Birkinshaw

10 August 2017

As you head for a well-earned holiday, here are a few quick tips for making the most of your down time.

One hour a day. Should you stay in touch with work during your vacation? Everyone has a view on this and while it's easy to argue that you should just ignore office emails for a week, there are many jobs where complete disengagement is impossible. So you have to reach your own smart compromise, to make sure a holiday really is a holiday.

Here is my simple advice: the scarcest resource we have to manage is not our time, it is our attention. If you find yourself checking the smartphone every half hour while playing with the kids, you are squandering your scarcest resource, as well as aggravating your family.  Instead, put the phone in the hotel room safe and get it out every day or two. Respond to the urgent emails or texts, and put it away again. Easy.

Keep a notebook handy. Most of us can't just switch off from work, especially not in the first few days of holiday. The mind races, issues are surfaced, difficult problems are chewed over and resolved. I have had some of my best ideas while walking in the mountains or visiting museums. My advice here on these mental intrusions is ... don't fight them. Keep a notebook to hand, or flip to the empty pages at the back of your John Grisham novel and write down what's bugging you.

Read widely. If you have been in the business world a long time, you will struggle to find any genuinely new ideas in the ample business books available. So try casting the net a bit wider, and delve into the adjacent worlds of social science and humanities.

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