Just because your work doesn’t always look like work doesn’t mean you don’t get to take a real vacation. You already deserve this vacation; it’s not a reward for achieving summer goals. In fact, not only do you deserve a vacation, you need a vacation. You work hard. Fatigue impairs cognitive function, the thing you need most to do your work. You need to rest and recharge.
You need more than a 1-week vacation
According to my dad, it is going to take you the better part of the first week to unwind and get into that rested and relaxed mode. You will probably spend the last couple of days of your vacation (however long it is) beginning to think about going back to work. That means that a 1-week vacation doesn’t actually include any time being rested and relaxed. The same applies to taking your vacation time as a series of long weekends.
I highly recommend taking at least a full 2 weeks and allowing yourself to completely disconnect from your work. I know this is scary. But it will be much more effective at achieving the goal of recharging. Furthermore, plan a vacation that enables a lot of resting and relaxing. What recharges you? What tires you? Do more of the former.
Appeasing the gremlins
The gremlins worry that, in addition to “losing” that 2 weeks, you will not be able to get back into your writing and thus never achieve your summer writing goals. They exaggerate. It’s their job.
First, your ability to concentrate, string words into sentences, and other key cognitive skills required for writing will be much better after you’ve recharged.
Second, it is frequently the case that stepping away from a writing project gives you fresh perspective that enables a big leap in progress.
Third, you can prepare for this. The strategies I suggest for taking the weekend off can also be used for taking a longer vacation. To aid in the winding down process tidy your desk, set your out of office message, and reflect on the positives about this project. (Make the out of office message something like “I will be away from … I will not reply to messages sent during that period. Please contact me after my return.” Then just archive the messages on your return.)
To aid your return, don’t push yourself to get to “a good stopping place”; having some potential energy in the draft will be more helpful. Set your desk up for the project you want to return to. Write Post-Vacation You a letter reminding her what you are trying to achieve with this project, what you’ve already done, and what it needs next. Use a nice note-card and put it in an envelope. Leave it on top of your other things.
Close the door and go on vacation. Enjoy!
Rethinking leave — to stop or not to stop this holiday season by Sarah Wayland