Having just concluded a 4 day break from work, where I actually shut down my email and focused on my family, I went back to work with a new perspective today. With that new perspective I was able to accomplish a weeks worth of things that affect long term goals. It was pretty unbelievable to me, things I was fighting with for weeks were so clear all of the sudden. I wish I could always operate like that.
I’ve of course read all the articles about how vacations are good for you and make you more productive, but as long as my vacation days have a cap and my spread out family and friends don’t move closer I won’t be enjoying too many zen vacations on the beach. So how can someone without the luxury of being able to completely tune out benefit from this sort of phenomenon?
I was a smoker from a young age until my wife became pregnant with our son 3 years ago. That was finally the motivation I needed to quit once and for all. One thing I do miss about smoking though is the fact that it gave you a quick 5 minute break to completely decompress and hit the restart button. This is something that non-smokers never build up since they are not taking 5 minute breaks every 2 hours throughout the work day over many years. Those times as well as smoking at night on the back porch were the times I would have my most clear thoughts and ideas of the day. The distraction free ritual was perfect for thinking. Here again though I no longer have the luxury of stepping outside and clearing my thoughts in this way.
Nowadays in my case I get home to my wife who has been chasing around our high energy toddler all day and is ready for some help. After dealing with dinner and baths and bedtime there’s usually not much time left for serious contemplation. I know this is important though so one night a week I go sit on my porch alone no matter how freaking cold without my phone and with a good glass of bourbon, and just sit and think alone for an hour. I’ve been doing this since my son was born and it’s easily the most productive hour of my week. Almost all major decisions and ideas originate from this hour and then I can go about the rest of my week confidently knowing I’ve thought things through. An hour is an incredible amount of time when you literally have zero distractions. It’s amazing what can get done.
I’m sure the better way to do this would be some form of daily meditation but I’m just not there yet. I imagine I would fall asleep if I tried that in the evening and my morning is so packed with workouts, breakfast, and family time that I’d have to shift my whole day to accommodate it.
I think the takeaway here is perfectly captured in Corona’s “Find Your Beach” campaign. Whatever you enjoy doing to clear your mind is what you should make a priority for at least once a week. It’s much more productive than we’d ever admit to unplug and enjoy some undistracted thinking time. If this isn’t something you’re currently making a priority please take my advice on this and set aside a full hour a week to give it a shot. You might be bored the first few tries but it will eventually become one of the most cherished parts of your week.
If you’re reading this and still not on board you should ask yourself when your life turned in a direction where the idea of enjoying a glass of good bourbon on your porch once a week wasn’t worth trying!
So anyone else out there have rituals like this? Share them in the comments!