Why taking a vacation is the ultimate productivity hack

It may seem counterintuitive, but taking a vacation is one of the most productive things you can do as an entrepreneur.

As I write this, I just returned from a 1.5-week vacation where I did hardly any work. I will be honest, I checked in a couple of times, but for the most part, I was totally disconnected from my team. 

On the surface, you would think that a vacation means you are not getting anything done. 

But in reality, you are actually getting the most important work done.

You are stepping outside of your business, and you are able to think big picture and gain clarity.

And that is priceless! 

My recent experience with vacation

During the weeks leading up to my most recent vacation, I was INSANELY busy. Lead Cookie was growing rapidly and my schedule was packed with sales calls. 

And at the same time, our new service, called Nurture, was gaining rapid initial traction, signing over 20 customers in the first month, and we had zero systems or processes in place.

To add to the mix, Linkedin starting to do some wonky changes to their platform, and my entire life was in a place of chaos. 

Yet, amidst all of this madness, I had one additional thing on my mind.

On March 8th, I would be leaving for a 1.5-week vacation where I was going to travel to 4 different countries and I would have no reliable place to work. 

This actually created more panic and anxiety for me leading up to the vacation... but it was all the more reason that the vacation was necessary. 

I was working my tail off, spinning in circles, and pulling 60-hour work weeks leading up until the time off.

A much-needed slap to the face

Right before I left for vacation, I had a call with my adviser, Alex McClafferty. And I received a much-needed slap in the face.

He said, "You are overworked, fatigued, and you are pushing too hard. You are starting to make bad decisions because you can't think clearly."

Boom. Slap accepted. 

This was what I needed to hear in this crucial moment before I left.

Alex was right. I had been working so hard and I was on the verge of making some really stupid decisions.

I was considering changing up our product line at Lead Cookie.
I was considering taking on a business partner for Nurture. 
And I had no clarity on where I was actually going or what I was doing.

All of this was putting me on the edge of making some really big mistakes. 

Vacations bring clarity

When I left for vacation, it took me almost 4 days to decompress before I could even start thinking clearly. 

I had been pushing so hard that I was just burnt the hell out. 

But then, clarity started to come my way.

In my morning journaling, I had these massive revelations.

I saw that changing up our product line at Lead Cookie was actually a horrible idea, and instead, we just needed to build one additional "feature" to our product that would help us adapt to the times.

I realized that taking on a business partner for Nurture was really me just being lazy in recruiting for new hires. 

And slowly, I started to see a much more clear vision and picture for my future and what it is that I wanted. 

Quality vacation reading

While I try to not read too many business books on vacation, there is one that I would recommend that helped me massively on this vacation:

Clockwork: Design your business to run itself by Mike Michalowicz

Considering that the topic of the book was about how to get the business to run without you, I figured it could make the cut for vacation reading.

As I read through the book, it helped bring clarity to so many aspects of my business. It helped get me into that "thinking bigger" mindset and "working on the business", which was a necessary perspective to get during this time away. 

But out of the whole book, there is one excerpt that stuck with me.

I will paraphrase here, but the general concept was this:

As an entrepreneur, we want to feel needed. So we consistently find things to do in our business to tinker and mess with stuff. Instead of just letting your business run without you, we find a way to throw ourselves into the middle and start making more problems for everyone. In reality, stepping away and letting the business run without consistently making changes is the best thing you can do.

That one hit me hard.

My dad is a notorious tinkerer. When he is working on some project around the house, he will tinker and tinker and tinker. Often he tinkers to the point where he makes the problem worse than when he started...

I do the same thing with my business at times. 

This "new product line" for Lead Cookie was stupid. It was me tinkering. We had this amazing system that worked well, and for some reason, I felt compelled to change it. 

I was becoming my own worst enemy. 

But it took me stepping away to realize that. 

Book your vacation now, figure out how to take them later

Many of you reading this may feel reluctant to take a vacation. You can't think of how it could be possible with everything going on in your business.

Well, here is the secret.

Just book it.

Schedule the time. Put it far enough out so that a lot could change between now and then. And then just book it. 

Schedule accommodations, travel, and whatever you will need.

Then just figure out how to take it.

The business may not be perfectly ready when you go, but you will make massive strides when you take that vacation.

For some of the first vacations I took with Lead Cookie, I was still operating as our lead account strategist. That means that if a client wanted to make a change request to scripts or targeting while I was on vacation, there was no one else who could do this... 

So what I did was, leading up until that vacation, I got everything else possible off of my plate.

And then if a strategy request came through while I was out, my team coordinated with the client to pause their account, and we would resume once I returned and made the script change.

We extended their billing by several days, but it wasn't the end of the world.

Book the time off now, and you will figure out a way to make it happen.

Take a vacation. It's the ultimate productivity hack.

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