Life’s a Beach

June 13, 2012

Last month Expedia.com released its 2012 Flip Flop report. Seeing as I developed a flip-flop method for measuring your pace of life, I feel it’s only appropriate to post this nifty infographic.

Germans top the list of beach-loving nations ~ it could have something to do with the fact that summer is typically measured in days, not weeks or months here. Pardon my cynicism, but honestly~ 20°C does not equal warm, folks.

Note the Brazilians’ attitude toward the beach. They like to dance, relax, sunbathe and dine there. Anyone care to do a little Samba along the coast? In my view, the Brazilian attitude toward relaxation wins hands down!

What is your favorite day of the week? Is it Monday as you start anew? Sunday, the day of rest? Or do you, like me, adore Thursdays, that is, Thor’s day, the most thunderous day of the week?

Thursday is a delicious time of almost-there-to-weekend jocularity. It holds promise, sweet tension and a hint of seductive grace. We have nearly a week of hard work behind us and on Friday? Well, not too much can be expected of one who has gotten the job done, right?

Thursdays, like the Fridays of entitlement, are a state of mind. I like Thursdays because they embody all that is precious about time ~the savoring of the moment right before the thing, the thunder clap before the storm. And for Thursday, that thing is a routine-busting experience not yet arrived.

Thursday has come and gone, only to return again. Today is Friday, people. How are you going to get your weekend groove on?

 

Benjamin Franklin
Image via Wikipedia

Benjamin Franklin meant well. He advised his tradesmen audience in the aptly worded „Advice to a Young Tradesman”  that time is money. In his day a person of trade, well, traded his time for the money he earned. In many cases today people think they still do that as well. But what they are really doing is spending a lot more time thinking about work than they are paid to do. Thanks in large part to technological advances, work has seeped into many aspects of our lives. So while we’re swinging our child on the swings, we’re solving that problem at work in our heads or on our cell phones. Many times you will see people ceaselessly thumbing their BlackBerries at coffee shops during ‘leisure time’. In today’s world, time is not money, my friend. Time is time and money is money.

In the world of slow, time does not equal money. Instead, time equals your existence.

The truth of the matter is ‘the time is money’ adage has gotten us into a lot more trouble than we realize. Because we live our lives based on the misleading premise that time is money, we attempt to do more in less time. We begin to confuse activity with productivity, as if the ‘doing’ will grant us ‘being’. Inadvertantly, we hop on the hamster wheel, running as fast as we can with a competitive mentality about the clock and what it supposedly represents.We have a negative relationship with time that gives us a sense of time starvation instead of abundance. Even our precious vacation time is not immune from the time-money equation.

According to expedia.com’s latest International Vacation Deprivation Survey conducted by Harris Interactive in April 2010, nearly one-third of the respondents admitted to engaging in work-related while on vacation. The trend seems to be increasing. In 2010 30% reported that they check work email or voicemail while vacationing as opposed to just 24% in 2009.

If you love what you do and you are not stressed by it, that’s one thing. But if you feel you can never disengage from your work to regenerate, chances are you need to entertain the idea of a lifestyle change. As this slide show proves, you needn’t worry about when you will ‘get there’. You’ve already arrived. And yes, time abundance can be yours.

Your body will tell you if you’re on the right track. Have you ever wondered why you feel so much better while on vacation? Not only is your stress level reduced, but you also tend to engage in more leisurely dining and longer sleep. Your body is a wonderful barometer for whether or not your pace of life is working for you. Inject some slow into your summer routine and see where it leads you. It might just take you off the beaten track. Take it from me, a recovering speedaholic. The road less traveled is a great place to be!

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Vacate the premises

April 16, 2010

If you’re anything like me, you start dreaming about summer vacation the moment the first bulb sprouts from the earth. Vacation planning is not just about flipping through catalogues and finding the right place to go, however. It also involves a great deal of preparation, especially if you are steeped deeply in your work life.

The stacks of files, the influx of emails, unanswered voicemails you have to address! The horrors of returning from vacation almost make you not want to leave at all. No matter what your envious co-workers think, that trip to the beach will contribute to the bottom line as you take off your thinking cap and put on your bikini. After all, a well-rested worker is a productive one.

Karen Matthews of the University of Pittsburgh’s Mind-Body Center knows the importance of leisure. According to her 2009 study of 1399 people as reported on NPR.com,  survey respondents who had experienced leisure, including vacation, said their time off had vastly contributed to more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions and depression. (That the U of Pitt even has a mind-body center speaks volumes about them!).

See! Time off is really good for you! So before you start hemming and hawing about how impossible it will be for you to leave the office for a few days, listen up:

With a little preparation you can save yourself a lot of time and heartache on both ends of your trip. If you dread the pre-vacation jitters and the post-vacation blues, follow these few simple steps to ensure a smooth transition from board room to boogie board and back.

Before you leave:

  1. Give people fair warning so they can play fair, too. For vacations that are a week or more, alert your clients, co-workers and colleagues a full four weeks before you leave. Remind them again two weeks before, then again a week before to manage their expectations. Giving them plenty of notice will decrease the chance of last-minute deadlines.
  2. Delegate routine assignments to your co-workers. Answering standard queries or sorting through mail can keep you available for more pressing matters when you come back. Return the favor when they go on vacation, too.
  3. Use your tools. A vacation reply can be helpful to remind people of your return and to provide alternative contact details so easier questions can be handled in your absence. If possible, add one stated day to your absence to give you a chance to catch up when you get back. Pre-pay any bills due in your absence or instate an auto-pay function on your online bank account.
  4. Hire a plant sitter. To give yourself peace of mind while you are away, ask a neighbor to bring in your mail, take care of your plants and pets, and start your car periodically so it won’t freeze.
  5. Unplug major appliances. Believe it or not, your electrical devices still use energy when they are ‘off’. Unplugging them will not only save on your energy bill but also eliminate the possibility of damage sustained by an unexpected power surge during a storm.
  6. Turn down the air conditioning. You can save on your electricity bill by turning off the A/C while you are gone.
  7. Vacation unsubscribe. Take a few minutes to unsubscribe from unnecessary email notifications such as Facebook and LinkedIn while you are away in an effort to tame the inbox shrew.
  8. Provide emergency contact details such as the hotel where you are staying, but not your personal mobile phone. To avoid carting the office with you, plan to leave your work-related gadgets at home.
  9. Check in online. If you are flying to your destination, take advantage of your airline’s online check-in service where available. It can save you the hassle of standing in line.
  10. Don’t forget Plan B. Create a back-up plan ahead of time in the event your flight is cancelled. Alert your designated co-worker that you’ll contact him or her in case of unforeseen delays.

When you return:

  1. Plan for continued leisure. It is possible to sustain a saner pace of life by integrating some fun into your every day routine. Taking a vacation is a great reminder of how good relaxation can be for you. Nurture your creative muse by engaging in at least one leisure activity a week going forward. Mini-vacations are a great alternative while you wait for the real thing to come around again.
  2. Organize your inbox by sender. It gives you an overview of essential emails while offering an opportunity for a quick mark and delete of non-essential ones. You can even do this the night before you return to work to combat post-vacation stress come Monday morning.
  3. Write down all the voicemail messages by date. Prioritize them in order of urgency. Decide which method you will use to respond. Sometimes one email can answer several voicemails at once.
  4. Be generous. Your diligent co-workers had your back while you were on vacation. Bring them a small gift of thanks to brighten their mood (because they weren’t away) and yours (because you’re already back!).
  5. Be gentle on yourself. Getting up to speed after a prolonged absence can be overwhelming, to say the least. Let people know you are digging yourself back out of the details. Give yourself a few days to get back into the swing of things.
  6. Don’t forget to dream. Sometimes the best way to combat post-vacation sadness is to promise yourself a retreat in the future. Part of the fun is in the planning! Having things to look forward to can keep you motivated while you await your next vacation adventure.

Leisure is an essential part of your life. It affords you an opportunity to reflect, regenerate and rethink many aspects of your daily routine. It is one of life’s marvelous paradoxes that free time is indeed time well-spent!

How to Get More Free Time

February 10, 2010

Free time doesn’t have to be expensive because it is indeed ‘free’. The first step to having more free time is to decouple your understanding of time as money. When thinking that time equals money, they treat time as if it were very expensive. In fact, ‘free time’ is the most valuable time you can spend.

Why?

Because when you take time off, you are more productive on the days you are ‘on’.

I’ll give you an example.

Instead of going to the gym to ‘workout’, I shoveled snow with my family. I was outside, got light exposure, and had a great time while doing something productive and helpful (the neighbors were happy, too, as we shoveled part of their driveway free). In the afternoon, my husband and I went to the gym for a visit to the sauna only. What a thought! It was a great way to spend our free time. An hour there gave us an extra hour in the evening of wakefulness because we were so relaxed.

How will you spend your free time today?

Leisure Time in the U.S.

Sunshine Days

October 26, 2009

The weather has been unexpectedly spectacular since I have been in the States. New York hit 70F on last Thursday. It stayed warm even when it rained the following day. Boston’s weather has been the same. Today the sun warmed our faces as we smiled at the sky while walking about Davis, Porter and Harvard Square.

I met Stever Robbins face to face today. It turns out he is a fellow Macmillan author who is putting the finishing touches on his final chapter before handing in his manuscript on November 1. His Get it Done Guy podcast focuses on productivity. He is as witty in person as he is on the air.

It was a slow day of talking and walking and carving pumpkins with friends. These are the moments we remember most. Remember to bring the blur of your days into focus with experiences like these. It is well worth the time you spend cultivating the garden of your life!

Cynthia Colby’s advice is simple: make an appointment with yourself every day. Using her daytimer, she literally pencils herself in so that no matter how productive she is with other clients, she can also find time for herself, too.

As a communications specialist with Cynthia P. Colby (Creative Communications), she produces  radio and tv commercials so Cynthia’s audio is especially worth a listen! [Listening instructions: click on the link, then click on it again for your media player to open. Be sure to deactivate any pop-up blockers you may have.]

Craftmaster James Dillehay has learned to turn passion into profits. By teaching yoga, he gets to do what he loves. By selling crafts, he is able to literally weave his love into his work.

Here’s James Dillehay in his own words…[Listening instructions: click on the link, then click on it again for your media player to open. Be sure your pop-up blocker has been deactivated.]

The American Time Use Survey, released every year in June by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reveals not much as changed since last year in how we spend our time. According to their 2008 report, one-half of our daily leisure time (2.77 hours) is spent watching the tube. Socializing came in a distant second (about 45 minutes daily). Men (3.01 hours ) watched a bit more TV than women (2.55 hours). I don’t suppose those financial shows count, do they?

Nonetheless, the interesting difference this year is that people worked .1 more hours at home than last year (that’s six more minutes for the fractionally challenged). That either means more people are telecommuting or are staying connected to the workplace even longer. A full twenty-one percent (as opposed to twenty percent last year) worked 2.90 hours a day at home on average. When looking at full-time employed men only, that numbers jumps to 3.13 hours a day.

How are we spending our time? A lot of it is spent in front of a monitor. Screen time is becoming more and more prevalent every day…

Author of A Better Day – A Better Life, Kelly Wilson, a work from home mom better daywith toddlers about her feet, equates her ‘me time’ with the time her husband spends on the golf course on Saturdays. Taking on the mindset that her free time is a round of nine or 18 holes helped her establish some ground rules for herself.

Listen to Kelly Wilson’s ideas of how your leisure time can be like a day on the golf course, too. [Listening instructions: Click on the link, then click on it again for it to open your media player. Be sure your pop-up blocker has been deactivated.]

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