There´s a short article in the May issue of Fast Company magazine about Chef Charlie Palmer (incidentally, if you have never read Fast Company, you should definitely check it out. It finds about 17 ways to inspire me every month.). He talks about the concept of a business vacation. He goes to Paris for a break, but while he´s there he visits restaurants for great meals and great ideas, he frequents gourmet food shops because he is opening a gourmet shop of his own in Las Vegas, and he visits vineyards and tastes their wares because he is considering directly importing wine for his nine restaurants. He also sleeps late every morning, stretches out lunch with a glass of wine or three and naps in the afternoon when he feels like it. He´s getting the break that he needs while drawing the inspiration and ideas that will hopefully turn into greater profits upon his return.
What a beautiful concept, and an incredibly productive one as well. Palmer is fortunate because he does what he truly loves, so his recreation and his work merge very nicely. Sure, we can´t all drink wine all day and call it work, but many of us are lucky enough to do what we enjoy (if you don´t then you should stop right now and spend a lot of time thinking about that, but that´s an entirely different topic). By combining a break with drawing inspiration and excitement for your return your holiday becomes a powerful event. If you get really good at it, you can justify taking far more vacations.
There are other ways of looking at the same concept. For example, my partner and I are planning a vacation this summer. She´s a student with a thesis that won´t write itself and I have my own many-headed monster I call a business to run, so we reasonably determined that two weeks away was what we could feasibly manage. When we started planning out the places we wanted to see and the people we wanted to visit, though, we quickly discovered that two weeks wouldn´t be enough. We wanted more time, but we couldn´t really afford more time.
The solution? We´ve decided to extend our trip, but plan the days of the extra two weeks we´ll be away so that we will have two or three hours every morning of concentrated work time. We´re both lucky enough to be very mobile with our work, so we´ll find a coffee shop with wireless service, turn on our laptops and she´ll write about whatever English masters students write about while I write the articles and reports that keep me challenged and energized. We´ll do enough work to stay ahead of the curve, but we´ll still be done well before lunch, leaving the rest of the day (and night) to visit and explore and recharge our batteries in an exciting and different locale.
That´s the way that we´ve found to make a working vacation work for us. By finding a way to be more productive while we are away, we can stay away longer and be more productive when we get back because of the extra fun and excitement and inspiration we have been exposed to. Our solution may not work for you, but maybe Palmer´s will, or maybe you can find another way that will work instead.