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7 lessons from a lengthy holiday

After a hectic year in 2017, I decided to take a long holiday, and I've just returned to my desk. Running one's own business these days requires being 'on call' seven days a week, but there's an upside: being able to decide one's own downtime, too. To start with I was feeling anxious about the extended break. Without me actually being at my desk, surely things would go wrong? And if they did, could I leave it to others to manage? I quickly realised my anxieties were entirely needless and as a result, learned to slow down in everything I did.

Here are a few of the 'take aways' from my long break that I'm going to apply next time I get away:

1. Plan ahead.
Some forward planning meant important 'work' matters were prioritised and attended to before I left.

2. Do the vacation responder
I set up my email alerting people I was away but would be checking in from time to time. When something needed my attention, I was able to put time aside to attend to this and let my family know so I wasn't interrupted.

3. Read. No TV, just read books
I read several books...and I'd forgotten how luxurious that can be! I set most afternoons aside for a cup of tea and a book. This became a respected ritual for everyone around me, including my dog, who napped patiently next to me, waiting for the cue that it was 'walk time'.

4. Have an afternoon sleep
Needless to say, the afternoon read often led on to afternoon nap for me.  This brief but refreshing 'siesta' meant I felt more alert at night to enjoy family conversation, board games, and yes, more reading.

5. Do something physical at least once a day
I either walked for an hour, went to yoga, swam or did a combination of all three. Whilst this might sound excessive, I was waking up early, with fifteen daylight hours for me to fill, so had ample time, sometimes enough for a bonus second walk or beach dip!

6. Take time to be creative
I baked bread, cooked interesting (as opposed to purely functional) meals and made salads that involved lots of preparation of ingredients from the garden - another creative outlet. By enjoying these mindful pleasures I couldn't be preoccupied with business.

7. Take the lessons back to work
I'm now back at work and am realising how, prior to the holiday, I was doing and thinking at a much faster pace. But I'm certain it didn't improve my productivity or the value of my work. I'm now consciously making an effort to moderate the pace of my thinking and activities...even having lunch!

The challenge will be continuing this, as I believe it's made me a healthier and nicer person to be around.