What if you took 52 vacations per year? - Mark MacLeod

January 11, 2021 - Mark MacLeod

What if you took 52 vacations per year?

I’m back in action today after almost three weeks off. I come back renewed, feeling more creative, full of ideas and ready to serve my clients fully.

This experience has me thinking about the importance of rest and relaxation for our performance. This is something that comes up with clients regularly.

On a first call with a CEO I ask about her work/ life balance and typical work schedule. For many, those schedules are exhausting. And not sustainable over the long run.

Our startup world has somehow normalized the notion of working non-stop. This ‘sleep when I die’ culture is not healthy. It also doesn’t lead to our best work.

Yes, it is true that if you are running a venture-backed company, then the stakes are high. Much is expected of you. And if you are in a winner takes all or most category, then you are in a race to win the market. First.

That does not mean that the correct strategy is to always work. Not all hours are equal. If you work 80 hours per week, I’ll bet there is a steep decline in productivity and creativity as you get past 50 hours. Yes, you may be working another 30, but those are not great hours.

As CEO, you really need to make a small number of crucial decisions or deliver a small number of crucial performances, such as closing a new exec hire, big customer or funding round. It’s not about input (hours). It’s about output. Results.

Now taking 3 weeks off may be a luxury, but I believe that if CEOs took actual weekends, every weekend, they would show up more creative and energized the following week. They would deliver more output. More results, with less effort and less strain on their bodies.

If they took 52 vacations per year.

I find that when I give space (like not working on a weekend) dots get connected, solutions present themselves. They just show up.

Also, taking time regularly for people, roles and things that feed you, makes us happier and more fulfilled. This leads to better performance when we are at work.

My proposal is not a radical one. Just try taking actual complete weekends off and see the impact it has on your energy, creativity and results. Also note the impact it has on your family and friends. My hunch is it will be a new routine worth sticking with.

Questions to consider

When is the last time I took a real break? Even a short one?

How did I feel after? Was I more creative? Energized?

Would I like to feel that way regularly?

What changes do I need to make to my work habits in order to take weekends off? (i.e. do I need to organize my week on Fridays?)

What benefits would come from doing this? For me? My family, etc?

What concerns do I have in trying this? What do I think will happen? What else could be true?

What is the worst case scenario if I try this?

Photo by Ethan Robertson on Unsplash

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