OMG there are only 12 working days until Christmas! I had no idea, it’s totally crept up on me, yes I have a tree, yes there are decorations in shops, yes I have been shopping – but no I hadn’t realised there were only 12 WORKING days left before we break.

In our part of the world Christmastime is our major vacation time, it’s mid summer, school finishes for 6+ weeks, businesses close down for the most part for anything up to 3+ weeks and as a result the month of December is a frantic working month with everyone trying to finish things before the break for that wonderful summer vacation they have been dreaming about all year.

As a business owner I find it hard to completely switch off, I blogged about this once before “Business Owners never really take a holiday – but thats all part of the fun”, when we took a vacation in June I wasted the first week winding down so have been on a quest ever since to find good advice on how to make the most of downtime, and the topic of this blog – Preparing to Relax. We have all been on holiday, frantic until the moment we stepped out the door or onto a plane and crashed or worse fell ill immediately, exhausted rendering us unable to enjoy the time away.

Of the many blogs and articles I have read researching tips and tricks for a busy business owner to relax on vacation and get the most out of the valuable time away this one from Faisal Hoque (one of my favourite leadership bloggers) published on Fast Company, “Buddha had it right, relax the mind and productivity will follow” stood out. While the context of the blog isn’t specifically designed to prepare us for vacation and relaxing – as highlighted through quoting Bill George “the best way to become more resilient is to develop oneself into a calm, compassionate and adaptable, mindful leader” – the themes of the article, ergo advice from Gautama Buddha, do translate especially when considered against the backdrop of the daily grind vs my goal of relaxing on vacation.

Wondering how this blog can help us all prepare to relax? here are the key insights and my planned approach:

  • Living in the moment. What a brilliant idea! focusing on the activity in hand, not on the thousands of other things to be done over the break or when you return to work. My plan is to trial this when cooking tonight as suggested in the blog, see whether I can train my mind to just focus on the meal, practising this over the coming week, then apply to everything I do on holiday.
  • Letting Go. Now this is hard, while living in the moment should result in letting go taking a conscious decision to let go of all the stress, all the things piled up on the to do list and those nagging wee things to be done. One technique I read in another blog was to carry a notebook (or your iPad if you must)- when a work action or activity creeps to mind, write it down, then it won’t get lost when you refocus on working again post vacation.
  • Slow Down. Easier said than done and as described in the article something every busy entrepreneur needs to do to create opportunities for thought, innovation and will result in focused productivity. Focusing on detailed activities – gardening, baking, creating mosaics and even painting the house are all activities I plan to undertake as a means of slowing down over the break.

images (2)Would love to hear what works for you. Relaxing is really important and preparing to relax equally important so we can make the most of our vacation breaks and downtime. Blog 1 / 12 complete, a very important blog in the series for me, hope it was useful for you too. Vic.