Entrepreneurs are hardwired to maximize every hour of every day to advance their vision and see their dreams realized. It is often a challenge to slow down without a very good reason for doing so, and it's even harder to enjoy a vacation if our minds are constantly at work.
In a recent Brainpickings article, editor Maria Popova explores the topic of leisure and writes: "Today, in our culture of productivity-fetishism, we have succumbed to the tyrannical notion of 'work/life balance' and have come to see the very notion of leisure not as essential to the human spirit but as self-indulgent luxury reserved for the privileged or deplorable idleness reserved for the lazy."
The concept of work-life balance is not one to be ignored--even for an entrepreneur. It is important to leave the office to either explore a new place on your own or to spend quality time with your loved ones. And while the thought of a vacation can feel impossible, there are ways to make it more manageable and avoid any major crises while you're away.
So what are some strategies (because as entrepreneurs we need a plan!) for baking in leisure time even when it seems like doing so may mean the end of the world as we know it?
To help us explore this topic, I tapped my dear friend and one of the most effective entrepreneur-vacationers I know: Bill Magnuson, co-founder and CTO of New York-based tech company Appboy.
Why you ask?
Because as long as I've known Bill, whether he's in the middle of a product push or a fundraising round, he does not forgo exploring the world and enjoying his life. His brilliance extends beyond his tech know-how and has seamlessly shaped what I believe is a life worth living.
Here are his 7 suggestions for embracing leisure and enjoying the fruits of your labor:
#1 – Embrace the three-day weekend
Not all vacations need to be a week (or several weeks) long. Often all that's needed is a few days away to recharge creative energy. With a well-chosen destination, or a visit to an exciting event, a short vacation over a long weekend can be just as satisfying as a longer trip. When traveling for short periods, you should strategically choose destinations or spend the extra money to fly direct so you are not wasting precious hours at the airport.
#2 – Travel Abroad Over the Holidays
Holidays are generally slow periods for any business, meaning clients and colleagues are less likely to need you to advance a project on a tight timeline. You might also have a few extra days off which means you can take a longer vacation or book a destination that's further away. Travelling internationally on a U.S.-centered holiday is often a lot less stressful too. While U.S. airports may be hectic, the international terminals won't be, and you may even save money on airfare.
#3 – Engage With Frequent Traveler Programs
Whether you are travelling for work or vacation, booking regularly with the same airline comes with a variety of benefits that make traveling less stressful, and more comfortable. More importantly, and often overlooked, is the benefit of being treated like a human (rather than a number) when issues arise. When flights delays and cancellations occur, your loyalty status means getting rebooked more quickly and having priority to clear standby lists. These small benefits can make the difference between a late arrival and an entire trip lost when major travel disruptions occur. Finally, regardless of your traveling frequency, make sure you're enrolled in government programs such as TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry to decrease the chance of volatile delays at security or customs.
#4 – Book Your Own Travel
Many entrepreneurs have assistants who can help with travel plans. But when you are planning a personal trip, strive to book your own. This not only better connects you to your vacation--it also makes you more self-sufficient. Travel logistics are complex, and when something threatens to disrupt your trip, it is important to be able to react immediately and make smart choices. Booking your own travel is a great way to stay informed and ensure that you are ready to deal with changes in plans or circumstances.
#5 – Don't Unplug--Just Schedule Your Time
Unplugging completely during vacation can mean unnecessary fire drills, bottlenecking the advancement of a project or setting yourself up for a mountain of work to catch up on when you get home. At the same time, staying constantly plugged in while you're trying to enjoy yourself can mean stress for you and those you are travelling with. Communicating with your travel companions and agreeing on times each day for everyone to handle important or timely work issues can help alleviate stress for everyone by making you feel confident that everything is running smoothly.
#6 – Don't Create an Itinerary for Your Vacation
Entrepreneurs adhere to a strict schedule every day while we work. That's why vacations should be as uninhibited and appointment-free as possible. While this may seem counterintuitive, you'll appreciate the ability to roam free as you wish. Many tourist sites are the same everywhere in the world, and they are all filled with the same visitors. Wander around, experience a new culture, and learn what it's like to live somewhere else. Don't stay beholden to a schedule or feel obligated to visit tourist sites just because they exist.
#7 – Take Only What Fits in Your Backpack
Travelling light keeps you mobile and saves you time in transit. More importantly, it provides you the opportunity to take spontaneous detours while you're on vacation, and change plans to capitalize on opportunities for adventure.
Now…go forth and plan that leisurely vacation keeping these tips in mind!