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Avoiding Burnout: Sometimes You Gotta Unplug to Recharge

Awhile back, I took a two week vacation in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Before the trip, I spent a lot of time daydreaming about (finally) playing with the WP-API and finishing up my JavaScript courses on Treehouse. One of the first things I did after we arrived at my parents place was pull out my laptop. My ten year old looked at me funny and asked if I would go outside and play.

That was a lightbulb moment, as I realized that we drove 1,200 miles (with kids!) so I could play on my computer!?

I closed the laptop, put on my jacket, laced up my snow boots, and went outside.

Here are some tips for unplugging during your (well deserved) time off

By definition, vacation is TIME off. We only have so much time, so here are some tips to help you recharge your batteries.

Notify clients that you’re going on vacation

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In addition to my full-time gig here at WDS, I also have a few personal clients who have me on retainer. A quick email or phone call to let them know you’ll be on vacation goes a long way. Hey, when a client is on vacation, they’re probably not thinking about their website…so it’ll be OK. I promise!

Put your laptop/tablet somewhere out of sight

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As obvious as this is, the old saying of “out of sight, out of mind” is totally true. If you don’t notice your laptop/tablet on the countertop, you’re less likely to grab it. I did check my emails occasionally during our trip, but only after the kids were in bed. And none of my emails were important. Zero.

Sign-out off work stuff on your phone

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Before I left, I signed out of Skype, HipChat, Gmail, and muted GroupMe. There’s no reason to pay attention to any of these notifications while on vacation. If the boss needed to get a hold me, they have my phone number.

Go outside

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Another no-brainer, but there aren’t usually power outlets and Wi-Fi outside. This forces you to enjoy nature!

Build something with your hands

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I realize that not everyone has access to a workshop in the backyard…but stay with me here. We built all kinds of things. My son is a scout, so we made deer antler knives, walking sticks, beaded necklaces. You don’t need to raise a barn! It costs very little to visit Hobby Lobby and hand-craft something…anything!

I cannot put into words just how satisfying it was to build something that didn’t exist on a server.

Play games

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Most of you have a deck of cards laying around. Some of you even have some board games! My 2-year old sure enjoyed playing Connect Four. In-fact, my daughter’s laughter was so infectious, the entire family ended up playing!

In the end…

I didn’t get to create an amazing one-page website/app using the WP-API. I didn’t learn any more about JavaScript. I also didn’t keep up with Facebook, the news, or pay attention to what was happening in and around WordPress. I did, however, make lifelong memories with my wife and kids…and somewhere along the way, ended up recharging my batteries which has me (and my son) feeling like Superman.

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Taking our time off allows us to avoid burnout, and be more productive when we return. What are some of the ways you make your self take a break?

 

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