On the importance of time off
2 min read

On the importance of time off

My thoughts on the topic are deeply influences be the talk

and my personal experiences that have led me not to take a proper holiday for way too long and lead to quite serious burnout and a lot of unnecessary frustration.

Last year I took my first longer break from work in 4 years - it was a month total (officially it lasted longer, but I had to close some side projects to fully dedicate to it anyway). I haven't gone full Stefan yet, as in I am 10.5 months short (I have taken a 6 week holiday this year), but I wish I will do a full Stefan one day. To all their kind of sabbatical - the talk  above mentions a few ways you can take your's:

  • a chef closing down his restaurant for 5 months every year to travel and discover more recipes - this is a serious wow, how are not more people doing that? He has a booking list way into the future!
  • someone who has written a book during a break they've taken - project based breaks, I have experience with this already although admittedly mine was not that daring
  • Stefan - 7 years work / 1 year sabbatical - 12.5 % - cutting time off your retirement when you can be a little more active. He makes some bald claims - most of the work after sabbatical came from discoveries made during the break. You expand your horizon and obviously it has an effect on your output and worldview influencing your work.
  • 3M - tells us it's possible to have a variation of that in corporate environments as well (and has been for quite some time) - read more on their take here but it's very similar to 20% projects popularised by Google - in essence letting your employees choose at least partly what they work on (while still working for a company) increases employee retention, job satisfaction, output and average tenure

Ness Lab has a nice piece on holiday as well:

A growing body of research shows that taking a vacation is good for your mental health. In a study conducted in the U.S., participants who took vacations twice or more per year were less likely to suffer from tension and depression. Even expecting a holiday break has a positive impact on your general sense of well-being.

Sounds like a wild claim when you first read it, but I have been waiting for mine for quite some time, and this time it's connected with fulfilling a lifelong dream of mine - making it all the more worth the wait!

There have been a number of studies on the effects of holidays and how replenishing they are, many of them agree that you do need longer time to fully appreciate it. It takes several days merely to forget the stress of daily life, then a couple more to catch up on sleep and only then you are ready to use it to the fullest.

I can't wait to finally hit the road. It's been 2 weeks that I didn't have to work already, but I am still coming back to the technology related book (even though I have a pile of other materials lying around) - I hope to make some progress on those and share a lot of memories with my wife, catching some sun before winter comes also sounds like a great plan!