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“Often he who does too much does too little.” (Italian Proverb)
Xmas v1 cats Why we wish you a non productive holiday

Some people pride themselves on their ability to maintain “high productivity and efficiency” even over the holidays, the glare of Christmas lights on their laptop screens presumably just a minor distraction amid their spreadsheets. But is labouring twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week the ultimate pinnacle of productivity? Is working intently without a single break the zenith of efficiency? Hardly.

For us, being productive means achieving the goals you set for yourself, while efficiency means finishing early so you still have tons of time for some rest and recreation. Not only does a balanced lifestyle lead to higher life satisfaction, but can also radically improve the quality of the work you do.

Remember what Jack Nicholson forcefully emphasized in The Shining: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”? Well, it is truer than you think. Idle, non-stressful and totally non-productive time is vital to being creative, whether you’re spending Christmas at your parents’ place or are snowed in as the winter-caretaker of a creepy hotel. It is during these rest periods that you take a mental step back from whatever you’re working on and start to have unconventional ideas. This is the so-called incubation period, when your brain subconsciously begins to work on a problem and new insights emerge. Remember how Archimedes discovered his principle for how buoyant objects are? Sitting in a bathtub, presumably relaxing! Now, we’re not saying that sitting in a Jacuzzi with a stripper named Trixxie is the best way to solve ALL problems, but the fact is that Eureka-moments rarely occur when you’re staring at a computer screen for the tenth consecutive hour.

So if you want the double-whammy reward of enjoying your holidays and getting a boost in creativity, consider taking these simple steps:

  • Get rid of any deadlines that fall on your vacation. Either get everything done before starting your break or contact the relevant stakeholders to push back the schedules. Make sure there’s nothing critical planned for the first week at work either, otherwise you’ll be tempted to get started on it during the break already.
  • Decide on a period of time when you intend to fully disconnect. Stay away from your work laptop and emails, and make sure you have a sufficiently merry out-of-office reply set (an animated waving Santa usually conveys the message).  If you can stomach it, consider unplugging completely. Do you really need to go online every single day of the year?
  • If you’re used to being busy, you’ll likely start to feel guilty about your newfound lazy slob-status after only a day or so. This will pass, don’t give in to the temptation to start working! If you need to rationalize it, just remember that chillaxing is an investment in your creativity!

In the spirit of this post, we are also taking a break from the blog for a few weeks to re-energize for the coming year, probably the most awesome yet! So from all of us here at Handbook of Awesome, have an awesome holiday!

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