The daily rhythm of of work and home can make life feel like it's flying by. Vacations are supposed to be one solution. Taking time away is meant to help us create precious memories with our loved ones, fill our minds with interesting anecdotes, and expand our sense of both time and possibility.
But as most of us know all too well, not every trip actually accomplishes those goals. It's all too easy to come home feeling drained and wishing you had a holiday to recover from your holiday.
So what's the difference between one of those life-affirming vacations you remember for years with a golden glow of happy nostalgia, and a bland getaway that seems like it flies by without leaving an impression?
The ultimate memory killer
That's what vacation rental marketplace HomeAway wanted to know when they designed a new study with University of Texas psychologist Art Markman. To determine the difference between a forgettable vacation and one that provides years of happy memories, the research team surveyed 713 adults from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy before, during and after their vacations, askinh about their experiences, memories, and vacation habits.
And while they found a number of factors can make a vacation more or less memorable -- for more impact avoid city trips and use social media only in moderation, for instance -- one result in particular is likely to interest busy entrepreneurs. Working on vacation, the study found, is a terrible idea if you want to actually remember your vacation.
"Working an hour or more on vacation made participants 43 percent more likely to have trouble remembering their trips than those who worked one hour or less," reports HomeAway. The survey also found the more you worked, the less you remembered, and that those who brought their laptops with them, as opposed to just a smartphone or tablet, were particularly likely to say the trip passed in a blur.
That's nice if you can manage it, but...
Your first response might be to protest that, while this is an interesting finding, sadly can't put it into practice. You're just too incredibly busy and indispensable to manage to leave your laptop at home.
But are you really? Every year productivity experts jump up and down protesting that bosses often learn valuable lessons in delegation when they step away, and Markman and his team are far from the only ones suggesting that the mental refreshment you get from switching off is probably worth way more than the tiny bit you'll accomplish while your family hits the beach.
"This might be blazingly obvious, but not working is a critical aspect of actually taking time off," happiness expert Christine Carter has admonished busy professionals. Meanwhile, founder, and Y Combinator alum Seth Bannon insists that entrepreneurs should consider taking vacations (and avoiding burnout) to be part of their job.
If you really can't leave your laptop at home.
Still pretty sure there's no way to leave your job entirely behind this summer? Then experts have plenty of advice on how to ensure that work leaves as light a footprint on your vacation memories as possible. Markman also offered some tips to Fast Company.