Modern Work

How Much Should You Work During Vacation?

A Venn diagram of the Disposition of the

“Oh c**p, am I not supposed to be resting?” Oh no no no, sit back down! What I meant was – if you were to do work, then how much?

Vacations exist for a reason – taking a week or two off every now and then is crucial for preserving your sanity (and your health). Yet, more and more it seems we live in a world where being overworked is considered an honour, even. People proudly show off their “busy” lifestyle like an achievement on Xbox – or a moose head on the wall, if you’re of the more vintage year.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard that nagging voice in the back of your head asking about your work stuff when you should be enjoying your vacation. That’s OK, you’re not crazy. It just means you care too much. Or maybe it means you worry too much.Or maybe you’re terrible at managing your time. I really hope it’s not about that.

Anyway – it’s a crazy, fast world out there. Since you clicked the title of this post, Facebook users have raked up 1.8 million likes. I’m not saying you should’ve spent this time on Facebook instead, but stepping off this crazy carousel-of-our-world is tricky.

How much time should you spend on work stuff while on vacation is a pretty subjective matter and depends largely on what kind of work you do.

Since it’s friday (and summer no less), I’ll keep your choices simple.

1. The Vampire Vacationer

working holiday 01 - toggl blog

React to work like a vampire does to garlic – aggressively, and possibly by bursting to flames. While you’re on vacation, avoid any and all work related stuff as if it was the plague. Burn all bridges and leave your laptop at home (and destroy your phone, if it comes to that).

Great when: your work involves a lot of routine or you feel like you’re burning out.

The benefit: full battery recharge. Completely removing yourself from work is great for resetting your brain.

2. The Workaholic Workaraound

working holiday 02 - toggl blog

Because you’re not a workaholic if you’re only checking your e-mails. Constantly. All the time. Give how competitive today’s world is, it’s true that some people can’t afford to just disconnect from the rapidly evolving circumstances around them. If you really feel maintaining your competitive edge requires constant vigilance, it’s perfectly OK to do work stuff during your time-out (think doing a week-prep on a Sunday).

This method is all about setting boundaries – figure out exactly how much time you’ll be dedicating to reading/emails/research on your vacation days and stick to those limits. Your family will probably appreciate that too.

Great when: you’re responsible for others (or when you “run” anything) or work with a great degree of autonomy. Crucial for tech workers.

The benefit: you’ll feel rested when you return to work, yet won’t feel like you’re lagging behind.

3. The Tom Sawyer Tactic

working holiday 03 - toggl blog

Sure, you’re on vacation, doing vacationing – it’s just that the vacationing activities happen to be awful close to what you’d be doing for work. It’s like Tom Sawyer delegating his fence painting duties to the other kids, making them believe they were doing it for fun.

This tactic works great for creatives – pick a creative activity that you haven’t done before, or one that isn’t related to your daily work tasks. Like pottery, or interpretative dance. The cool thing about creativity is that it can come from the most random of sources – and the more sources, the bigger the chance you’ll stumble on a new idea at work. You’re not practising your work skills, but you are practising your positive qualities, so to speak.

Great when: you work in the creative industry.

The benefit: it’ll be fun, but you’re really secretly learning new work skills. Sneaky.

Whichever way you go, though, remember this – your body and mind need rest and vacation time should be used for just that as much as possible. If you do stray, don’t sweat it – the habit of working is tough to break.

Which probably isn’t a bad thing, really.

Illustrations by Mart Virkus @ Toggl.

July 24, 2015