Take a break
I have just recently returned from a month’s annual leave. It’s the first time I have taken leave or holidays that has lasted for longer than a week at a time in the last two years. A super busy workload of coordinating the establishment of an international agricultural research project alongside establishing a research career back home has been demanding on time.
Heading overseas, my wife Lisa and I returned to her home in Ontario, Canada to visit her family. At the start of the trip we spent a week up in the Muskoka region, on the edge of Algonquin Provincial Park. This area is famous for the number and beauty of lakes that provide canoe routes through managed mixed forests. We hiked along a number of well-maintained tracks and observed wildlife including moose, white-tailed deer, beaver, squirrel, racoon, chipmunk, red fox, loon, and heron.
After about a week on leave, without access to internet or phone, I started to realise just how wrapped up in work I have been. Being so wrapped up in work, it is easy for priorities to be clouded and hard work to be misdirected. There are so many opportunities within our day to day work to get side tracked. I found that the time away made it easier to set new goals and priorities.
One of the best things about holidaying for an extended period is that you have time to immerse yourself in an interest or hobby, totally unrelated to your career or work. For me its fishing. Going to a place I haven’t been to before presents a number of challenges and intrigue with regard to my hobby. It’s this that engages the mind into something that isn’t work related. By the end of my visit I had developed a number of new fishing skills and knowledge. I had also bagged a large number of small-mouthed bass.
Spending quality time with family while on holiday is also important. Being involved in international agricultural research, particularly coordinating a project requires either living in country or making multiple visits on a regular basis to monitor progress. This often means working weekends and missing out on time with family. Being away also means that work can build up, which requires working nights to catch up. In my case, spending time with Lisa’s parents is a rare event and something I thoroughly enjoyed.
I guess where I’m going with this blog is wanting you to have a think about when was the last time you took a decent break. I really didn’t realise I needed a break so bad until I was half way through it. Coming back I feel like I am re-energised, work priorities have been adjusted, and I can direct my hard work for benefits in both our international project and my research career. Do you need a break?
5 Tips to take a break
- Get your holiday booked. If you are struggling for motivation it puts some light at the end of a tunnel. It also makes you prioritise to get things done before you go on leave. It can actually improve productivity.
- Take an extended break. Having a few days here and there doesn’t do much. I found it took at least a week to wind down.
- It’s not easy, but try to down tools. Not replying to emails and phone calls feels good, and you never know, someone might step up in your absence.
- Immerse yourself in your interest or passion. Become skilled in something other than work. Doing this takes your mind off work.
- Do it again! I’m planning already my next holiday.