5 Unusual Tips To Make The Most Out of Your Holidays


It is here! It's vacation time!!! Aaanndd… it's over, back to work.

We never have enough holiday days, do we? Even the French people who already have up to 7 weeks complain! (I know, I wish I were working for a French company too). Is it true that we don't have enough days or is it actually that we don't make the most out of them? 

Surprisingly I felt the most invigorated after a recent 3 days trip to Koh Lippe. Even though it was a short one when I had too much on my plate and very tight deadlines ahead of me, I came back more fresh than when I took a month off last year. 

Have you also ever come back from the so-wanted holidays feeling it wasn't enough, or even more tired than you left? If it isn't necessarily about the length of time, what is the difference between going on vacation and actually being/feeling on vacation? 

I wanted to share with you these 5 unusual reflections and learnings acquired hoping they will help you make the most out of your holidays.

1) Take Actual Holiday

As per definition, holiday means: "a period of leisure and recreation when no work is done". Yes, you read it well, "no work is done". How many of us can honestly say that we do take actual vacations? While sharing this with my clients, most of them admitted (like me) to go on holidays with their laptop. A lady who was made redundant even told me 'it's the first time in 20 years that I've not done any work during my time-off'.  

Many of us think that we can't really be offline. Deep inside us, we feel that the world will collapse if we aren't there. A feeling I resonate with strongly as the primary driver of my business. Let me tell you a secret: it won't ;)

Beginning of 2018 wasn't the easiest time for me. I pushed myself to work extremely hard to "forget" of my separation. This technique didn't quite work, so a few months later, when I was resembling too much to the characters of "Walking Death", a dear friend told me: "You need to stop. Take a month off, focus on your health and happiness. A business's just business." My immediate answer was "You're crazy! I can't disappear for a month! My clients won't accept it!" To which she answered, "I love you, but the world will continue to turn without you." And to my surprise, it did. 

2) Practise leadership while in holidays 

Being able to delegate it is an essential skill to have, particularly for those in leadership. In my opinion, it's a mandatory skill for all of us who want to do something more than work in our lives. 

Delegating is like letting go, easier said than done. But, what if we could use our holiday time to learn to delegate? What if we could become better leaders while sipping mojitos on the beach? You never thought of this, did you? ;) 

There is a difference between delegating and "passing dead bodies to someone else" though. Don't tell you colleague Mike 48h before your departure "Hey Mike, you're in charge of the project, that by the way, is delayed. Oh, and I will be completely offline as I read that this will make me a better leader". 

In my opinion, a successful delegation has 4 ingredients: finding a capable person, through preparation and training, communication, and trusting their capabilities. This last part is probably the hardest, at least it was for me. When I decided to take on the intensive one-month yoga teacher training, I was "forced" to trust and delegate. I won't lie to you, it was a bit scary to put Emma fully in charge of the business. Not because I had any doubts about her capabilities, but it felt like the first time you leave your kid at the kindergarten. Not pleasant. 

Before leaving, I made sure she knew what needed to be done, how to identify red flags, and how to deal with them. We also notified our clients and stakeholders, and introduced Emma to them - we thought it would be smoother than them learning about my absence from the "out of office" automatic email'. 

And wow! Her performance exceeded all of my expectations. She might not have managed things the same way I would have, but hey, I learned to let go and handy new ways to accomplish everyday work and deal with problems.

3) If you really have to work, do it full-on.

How many of us are guilty of squeezing a few works calls and emails while our partner is taking care of the kids, gets distracted or even goes to the loo? How many of us have been on the other side seen our family or partners do this? I experienced them both in the same month, life has funny ways to get the point across, and none of them is fun.

At first, I was the one suffering from being on vacation with a person who was paying more attention to the phone than to us, which harmed the group dynamic and made me feel resentful. 2 weeks later, I was meant to be enjoying the Greek coast, but instead I got myself "busy" arranging meetings, and answering queries. As I was solo travelling my behaviour didn't directly affect others, but it did get me exhausted, moody and had an arising feeling of guilt for not discovering Greece as much as I would love to, nor managed the business issues as effectively.

My biggest take away from this experience was to apply the motto "whatever I do, I do it to the fullest". Squeezing work bits here and there while on vacations might make us feel frustrated with our professional self because "we could have done more" and disappointed with our personal self for not paying enough attention to our partner and family. Hence, if you have to work, plan for it and do it full on. I.e. allocate a few hours in the morning to clear the emails, take a or two full days to work if needed. But compartmentalize. Take the rest of the time to be there with your loved ones -and if you're travelling solo like I did last year, take the time to enjoy :) 

4) The cherry on the cake: Switch off the notifications

I decided to switch off entirely, for the first time in my life, when we went to Koh Lippe. No calls and emails, no LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram, for 3 days. It wasn't easy, I must say. Every morning as I woke up, just before switching off the lights at night, when I was left alone or in a quiet moment, my default was to pick up my phone and go one-by-one through the apps mentioned above. However, with the stubbornness that comes along my nationality and the support from my trip buddy (who also did his best not to check his phone in front of me those days), I made it.

This practice got me to make the most out of my time off, improved my communication with my holiday buddy, and also "gave me back" 6h of my life -yep it's scary, but we spend an average of 142 min per day in social media. In a nutshell, it was, without a doubt, the most relaxing, rejuvenating and refreshing holiday I ever had. 

I encourage you to take the challenge! If you can't do it for the entire duration of your vacations, do it for a few days at least.  

5) Give yourself permission to rest 

We all know the sentence "work hard, play hard". I think this sentence has something missing "rest hard".

Many of us don't realize how stressful our lives are, and how little we listen to our mind and body until we go on a ski vacation and end up in bed due to a sharp back pain, or go on a foodie trip, to end up with stomach acidity unable to enjoy the local delicatessens. 

To avoid the above, give yourself permission to do nothing sometimes. You might struggle at first as it seems like you're missing out, leaving us with little to tell about your holidays. Yet taking time to rest and reset our mind and body is necessary, even more, these days when we run like headless chickens between meetings and after work commitments. I feel that we're too focused on doing instead of on being. We don't know how to do anything, we prefer to be restless than bored. But we can't really enjoy it if we are exhausted, can we? Rest more to do more ;)

I hope these tips help you make the most out of your vacations! Happy Summertime!!

sandra quelle