In June 2015, Roy Morgan Research revealed that Australia’s full-time workforce had a total of 123,510,000 days of annual accrued leave. That’s a lot of people who have deferred taking holidays presumably for a whole range of reasons. In this age of exponential change, that happens faster than we can keep up, one of those reasons would be that they don’t have time! Work-life integration is one of the unsolvables.
How To Take Leave When You Are Too Busy To Take It.
So a better title for this blog may have been – How To Take Leave When You Are Too Busy To Take It! That’s the dilemma so many people share with me in mentoring and coaching. You know you need a break. You want to take a break, but you also know that the amount of work involved to get you out of the office and what will be there when you get back means there is little value in going. If you do go it takes you at least a week to unwind and then the second week you begin to build up to your return. You begin to worry about what will be there when you get back. So the leave is not really serving any purpose.
One Solution – David Rock’s “Half-Time August”
I was listening to a video interview recently with David Rock. For those of you who don’t know him, he is an Australian who, while living in New York, returns here a number of times a year to lecture and present on Neuro-Leadership of which he is the founder. His work is very cutting edge and he travels the world, presents constantly, consults to organisations and leaders, writes books and journal articles, runs webinars, coaches and mentors. In other words he is a very busy man.
He did this interview in his T shirt while he was on holidays, what he called “Half-time August”, a ritual he engages in every U S A summer. For you here in Australia the equivalent is “Half-time January”.
Every summer, David solves the work-life integration dilemma for himself by going off with his family for a month – works half time and spends time with his family the other half. He said that with the work he does, he cannot take even a fortnight off without it being incredibly stressful beforehand and afterwards. He can, however, take a whole month and work at a very much slower pace. He will often work 2-3 days and then take long week-ends of 3-4 days when he does no work.
What was significant about what he said, however, was that it wasn’t just the relaxation, recharging and spending quality time with family that was important for him, but what happened to his thinking and reflection during that month. In this holiday space, he said he thinks differently, that there is a different quality to his thinking. There is a different level to his reflection. Because he has more “space”, he has bigger thoughts that are more sustaining.
So if you are in the northern hemisphere, one way to solve your work-life integration dilemma is to take a “Half-time August” break, but to all my colleagues in the southern hemisphere, we can embrace “Half-time January”.
The Importance Of Creating A SPACE Away From Your Desk For Thinking Big.
The SPACE in which you work every day, your office and your desk, is anchored to what you do there, both physically and psychologically. You have meetings and discussions there; you work on your computer; you send emails; read and write reports; you answer phone calls; you file documents; you meet with your staff and manage their performance. Your thinking is highly geared to optimising your performance of those tasks in that space. Research has shown that it then becomes very difficult to psychologically shift to creative and innovative thinking in that same space because that type of thinking does not take place in the office or while you are at your desk.
This is what David Rock has discovered during “Half-time August”. Even while his daily work is very cutting edge and many would see it as very creative and innovative, he thinks even bigger when he moves away from that space he frequents every day.
So not only is it imperative to make work-life integration an importance goal in terms of managing your energy and not just your time, it is also important in providing you psychological space to think in more exciting, creative and innovative ways, and to tap into your inner self where there is much more potential than you have every explored or discovered.