Vacation, Rest and Balance

Many people are on vacation right now. To restore productivity, we need to create breaks. Vacations let us live a little, rest, and restore perspective. It’s one of the primary reasons I am thrilled to plan a two week vacation for this September.

Over the years, I have found rest helps me excel. Many executives come around to this point of view. For example, Arianna Huffington has been on a sleep mission, speaking about the importance of rest. She literally found out the hard way, by falling over in exhaustion and breaking her cheek bone.

Fatigued minds are less productive, lack sharpness, and more irritable. Basic rest is necessary. But beyond that people lose perspective. While you want to have that locked in state of mind on projects, if you lack perspective work suffers, too. Working for extended periods of time produces difficulty with my writing, too. It loses its edge.

Smart managers insist their teams take time off. When you are self employed, you have to tell the tyrant to buzz off and take a break, knowing in the end both of you will become happier for it.

Balanced minds perform better.

I usually sleep six hours a night, exercise, work 12 hours and spend time with my daughter during a normal work week. But over the four day Fourth Holiday I rested. I generally stayed off-line, slept eight or nine hours a day, caught a couple of baseball games, played with my daughter, only wrote once, and did not work until Sunday night.

Oh man, I need more of that. I felt so much better! Yet, even as I write this I feel exhausted.


It’s time for that two-week vacation, the first one of such length since I went to France and Argentina for most of the fourth quarter in 2009. That was the most restful spiritual time of my life. I reminisce about my days in Patagonia weekly.

In my opinion, you need a full two weeks to rest and recover. That’s because your mind doesn’t fully unwind until after that first week. Three books in three years, birth of my daughter, hard work, etc, etc. Yeah, it’s time.

We’re going to Europe this time; Oslo, Norway, and likely Copenhagen, Denmark and/or St. Petersburg, Russia. For the first week, the only work I have is to speak at the rehink conference, the raison d’ĂȘtre to be in Europe in autumn. Everything else is play. How I crave this much needed rest.

Do you have vacation plans?

Also, let’s be grateful. Many folks don’t ever get to enjoy a break.



  • I don’t suppose you’d want to pack me as a carry-on, eh? :)

    I agree – restorative periods are becoming increasingly essential. The more time I spend in the online world the more I say, “Dude, I need a vacation.” There’s just too much stuff crying for our attention, methinks.

    • Yeah, breaks from online life are increasingly necessary. I will go days without participating on Facebook, intentionally. Just drives me crazy. But even the real world wears on you after a while. We all need to play at times. Hope you are doing well, Margie!

  • Sad to say we have not had anything resembling a vacation since 2006, and that was in middle of a move from Boston to DC. All of our things were left packed in boxes in a 1br apartment, both of us would be starting new jobs upon our return. :)

    Let me tell you, we are feeling it.

    • I know how hard it is with kids, and I know you have more kids than me! But I do hope you get a chance soon!

  • Oh, how I wish I could take a vacation. I used most of my available vacation time for SXSW, which, as you know, is not a vacation in any sense of the word.

    I like your point about how two weeks are necessary for a full rest and am glad you’ll be able to take that much time to play and rest.

    • As a consultant, I realized that all I had to do was set the time, plan financially, and hold an iron fist to it. And there you have it. Now I just need to say no. A lot! LOL. I hope you enjoyed SxSW.

      • Ha! Yes. My situation’s just a bit different with a day job and Write Right.

        I did enjoy SxSW but was exhausted by the end of it.

  • Love this, Geoff. I think we all need more rest. I know I do. I’m trying to be better about getting more sleep. I usually get six, but I feel even better if I get eight. It’s tough to make that work, but it can be valuable if you do.

    As for the vacation thing, that’s something I so desperately need – and more than just a few days! As a new business owner (and the only one running things), it’s incredibly hard to get away. But, I’m trying to figure out how to build things so it will allow me to do that. Thanks for the nudge. I think we all need to be better about this!

    • Yeah, entrepreneurs really struggle with this. I think it’s been my primary battle. I do have a VA now, and that helps quite a bit. Hope you get a break soon, Laura.

      And the six hour/eight hour thing? I also feel better with eight.

  • I know I need more rest!!! And while I won’t get two weeks in July, next week in FL will be very welcome. I usually save my vacation time for the last two weeks of the year (Christmas). It allows me to fully indulge my inner child as well as my actual child (who will be 8 in September!) for the full holiday season. The mindset is just fun and laughter and glee – living the experiences through my daughter’s wonderment. I hope to travel more going forward…but it’s a start.

    • Well, have fun in sunny Florida! Are you going to Orlando?

      The last two weeks of the year are an easy time to break. I just always seem to get caught up with family events. I’m glad to hear your daughter makes these times better. I have the same experience.

  • 2 weeks MINIMUM!! The Euros think we are crazy for having no vacation time. Arianna is right, the whole society thinks it is cool to be stressed and busy Multitasking…..Your itin sounds lovely, and will make memories and fun, as well as some fabulous pics. Bon Voyage, my friend. Enjoy. I will go to Pittsburgh over Labor Day to see my elementary school friends for the first time in 49 years…should be fun also.

  • Hi Geoff,

    “I usually sleep six hours a night, exercise, work 12 hours and spend time with my daughter during a normal work week. But over the four day Fourth Holiday I rested. I generally stayed off-line, slept eight or nine hours a day, caught a couple of baseball games, played with my daughter, only wrote once, and did not work until Sunday night.”
    –Hey, this is me and was me over the holiday, with the exception baseball games, oh and I hung out with my youngest son (he’s 13) for more than a few hours. (I’m just glad the kid wants to spend time with me ;))

    I hear Patagonia is amazing, and man I’m jealous of your European trip (one day!) My wife and I are downsizing early. Shedding material stuff so we can travel. With all that being said I haven’t had a real vacation in years!!

    I do want to sleep more than six hours a night, but always pop up like a Jack in the box ready to go :)

    Thanks for the nudge, Sir!

    • You have the right idea on downsizing! Your not going to take any of that stuff with you to the grave. Sounds like you are set for some good times, Craig!

      On the sleep thing, man, my damn animals always wake me up. I hate them. Old bastards! OK< not so, but you get my point.

  • I can’t agree more about the need for a vacation and for time during the vacation to decompress so that you can truly enjoy it.

  • I’d been working for about 6 years before my wife convinced me that I needed to take a vacation. I was a big cost/benefit type of guy – and a super saver – so I struggled with what it was going to cost me to get away for a week. She convinced me that we needed it, and I’ve never looked back. Now we try to have 1-week getaway…and 1-week stay at home around Christmas…to get some relaxation.

    However, that doesn’t happen as easily when you are electronically tethered, and I agree that 1-week isn’t enough if you’ve been “always on” for several consecutive months. It takes the first week just to unchain the bands around the chest (stress). You can then use that 2nd week to truly replenish the energy and inspiration.

    I’m not there yet (2-week vacations), but I do see the need. I also agree…we take for granted going on vacation, and I know people who’ve worked the majority of their careers without taking vacation – mostly because they lack the means. Yet they desperately need the vacations because they’ve been bearing the stress of “paying the bills” for years/decades with no rest in sight.

    • Yeah, in mind as an entrepreneur, I’d rather make less than work the weeks around. I actually billed for less this quarter because of that. But I cannot question the logic. It was desperately needed!

      And good on your wife for making you do it, bro. Our partners often know before we do!

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