Monday, April 13, 2015

How to Make your Own Workcation

This post is #11 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 

Experiencing your own workcation simply doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a little time to plan, prepare, and get ready for your first experience. The simple steps below are to help you make the most of your experience and help you appreciate each and every workcation moving forward.

Write it down: The easiest way to start your workcation is to write it down. You may already know what you want it to be or you may have a list of several workcations that you would like to explore. If your list is long, you may need to prioritize it to help you focus. There is a magical element that happens when we write something down. It becomes tangible, brings to fruition the ideas and life and helps us rationally explore something we may just be thinking about.

Research additional ideas: You may think you have the best idea for a workcation, but there are other ideas that may be available. Spending time on family, travel and outdoor websites and blogs can help stimulate new ideas to explore and pursue. Additionally, social media sites, such as Pinterest and Instagram, may help bring to life other ideas that you can explore during a workcation. Searching particular hashtags on Instagram, such as your location or a particular theme, may introduce new ideas to explore. For example, after spending time on Instagram searching the hashtag #CrystalCove, I saw pictures of backpackers in the local area. Seeing remote pictures of tents in the local state park, inspired me to pursue and plan a local backpacking trip with friends. Prior to seeing the hashtagged images, I wasn’t familiar with the possibility of backpacking less than 10 miles from my house and after doing the research and seeing the images, it brought for a new opportunity to add to my workcation list.


Prioritize & Schedule it: We are all busy. Ten years from now, we will even be busier. Each year, as we accept more responsibility and advance in our life path, it seems there are more commitments and obligations for our time. No matter what is thrown our way, it’s important to find time to relax and enjoy some personal time pursuing the activities that interest you. Your calendar may already be planned out for the next three, five or ten months. However, marking off a few hours, one night or even a couple of nights now for the activity of your choice, will help make your workcation a reality. Scheduling has two powerful impacts. It gives your something to look forward to and gives your workcation plans a timeframe to help make it a reality. The goal is to plan your strategic downtime, in order to have the workcation ready for you to take advantage of it.  


To learn more about how you can enhance your life, check out Workcation. It's available to borrow for free via an Amazon Kindle.  


Monday, April 6, 2015

Benefits to Time Off/Workcation

This post is #10 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 

As you continue to define and expand upon the reasons behind your workcation, let’s look at some of the leading studies about the benefits of taking time off. According to Alertness Solutions, an independent research firm, the benefits of a vacation respite can help increase worker performance by 80%, and reaction times of returning vacationers increased 40%. As you take breaks from work, your ability to reconnect actually increases!

Imagine that! Productivity increases as we take time to play and reconnect with your true passions. In fact, Stuart Brownfounder of the National Institute for Play in California shares that active play increases the responsive, flexible, skilled aspects of our brain. All of these qualities are excellent for the workplace and help us be more well-rounded and flexible employees.

Additionally, if you have a family, the social benefits can extend beyond the workplace. The Disney Time Survey, an independent research study conducted by Kelton Research, found that quality family time not only increases while on vacation but the family members are able to learn more and new things about each other during this time period, compared to when at home.  This helps family members feel more relaxed, calm, and even more affectionate. 

The benefits of taking breaks from work – either the form of a traditional vacation or workcation, simply don’t stop at productive level. These benefits can help your overall health. In fact, the distinguished Framingham Heart Study discovered that vacations actually help reduce the risk of heart disease, particularly in men. Specifically, men who didn’t take a vacation were 30% more likely to have heart attacks then those who did. The study found that even if you plan on skipping one year to create a bank of vacation hours, the effects of not taking a vacation can increase your risk of heart disease. Taking breaking helps refresh the soul as well as improve overall health!


Now, as we have seen from earlier chapters, Americans are not taking vacations and leaving substantial amount of days in their vacation hour bank. A workcation is not about making you take all of your vacation time, although these stats may make you reconsider using more of your banked vacation days. It’s about helping you identify how to take more prolonged breaks in your life. If it’s an hour walk at a park or an overnight camping adventure, a workcation, however you define it, can add productive, health, and social benefits to your life.


To learn more about how you can enhance your life, check out Workcation. It's available to borrow for free via an Amazon Kindle.  


Monday, March 30, 2015

The Why versus the What

This post is #9 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 

It is easy to focus on a goal without understanding the reason behind the goal. If you don’t focus on the motivation behind accomplishing the goal, then it can be a struggle to set in motion the plans and initiatives to accomplish the goal. For example, your goal may be to run a half marathon, but if there is no why; it may be harder to push forward with accomplishing the goal. However, if the goal is to run a half marathon to raise money for a charity, lose weight or increase distance from the last race run, then it can become a lot easier to step forward with running the half marathon.


The why behind our goals is as equally as important as the what. In the case of the workcation, the why may be to spend more time with family, take a break from TV or your cell phone, or not feel like a rat in a rat race. No matter you why, just spend some time thinking about the reason or the reasons why you need a workcation. If you don’t truly understand your reasons, then you are doing something just to do it, and the feeling of accomplishment will not be the same as if you had a clear and defined reason.


To learn more about how you can enhance your life, check out Workcation. It's available to borrow for free via an Amazon Kindle.  


Monday, March 23, 2015

Experience & lessons from my first Workcation

This post is #8 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 

The idea of having a bonfire, sleeping in a tent, showering, and returning to work may not excite everyone, but it warmed my spirit! I felt I became so accustomed to the comforts of my house – running hot shower, comfortable bed, and toilet – as well as the comforts of technology – including watching programmed DVR television, perfectly arranging my Netflix queue, responding to email at a moment’s notice  – that I lost touch with unplugging during the workweek. The idea of going somewhere local and unplugging for a few days, while still going to work and contributing during the day, made me feel I could have the best of both worlds – a stable career and dedicated time to relax.

My first workcation was spring 2013 for two days at Doheny Campground, a surfer’s campsite retreat along the beach in southern Orange County. It was from Tuesday-Thursday. I was reluctant to tell my coworkers what I was doing outside work, as I didn’t want to worry about how the lingering smell of campfire may distract from team meetings and projects. I invited a few friends to join me on the adventure. Although the idea seemed too radical or irrational to most, one of my best friends, Wally, joined me in the adventure and we were off!

On Tuesday night, Wally and I arrived at the campsite after work around 5:30PM and had sense of giddiness. For the first time in a long time, we were breaking out of our comfort zone by simply breaking upon our tents on the beach. An activity that is supposed to be enjoyed during “vacation hours” or “on the weekend” suddenly became an adventure, as we broke out of our normal routines and found time to relax. We turned off our phones, made camp, and enjoyed a bonfire complete with BBQ and s’mores.

We woke up the next morning with a sense of reawakening to our senses. Instead of turning on the coffee pot and heading into the shower, we jumped into the Pacific and went for a swim. The ocean’s chill temperature refreshed the body and the pounding waves helped awaken the senses. We were alive! The day was fresh and full of opportunity!

The first full work day after the workcation was exciting. I felt like I had a secret. The real secret wasn’t that I went camping the night before, but that I knew of a way to recharge, refresh, and reclaim a feeling of independence and hope. I felt that I had unplugged from the life around me and was able to reconnect and replug with a fresh perspective and sense of engagement. The lingering, but small odor from campfire didn’t slow down my workday. I actually found myself more productive during the day – both as motivation to return to the campsite again, as well as having the time to be unplugged from our constantly plugged in society. These were only the feelings after the first night of the workcation! I was excited for night two!

Wally and I returned to the second night of workcation with a larger crowd. Several of our friends, including Ashley, my beautiful girlfriend and now wife, joined us for a bonfire. Some of our friends were amazed that we returned to work after camping the first night and others thought it was a little crazy. No matter what our friends thought, this is what their own opinion. I had learned to be less concerned with their thought and appreciate my own experience, which was that it was refreshing, different and placing me more in touch with my friends and myself.

We finished the second night of the workcation, returned to work, and put behind our past as we started to focus again on our future. The workcation was almost a respite and restart button that helped trigger a new sense of purpose. Similar to starting the New Year fresh with a clean slate of resolutions, the workcation was an opportunity to evaluate our life direction and put into focus what was important to us.   

It’s amazing how vivid the memories of that experience still are. I’ve probably worked hundreds of days since then and I may not be able to tell you what I did last week during the work week, as it falls into my normal routine. However, when we break out of our comfort zone and routine, we are able to enjoy more of ourselves and create lasting memories that carry on for years and possibly even a lifetime.


I can go on and on about the details of the first overnight workcation, but this book is not about me, it’s about YOU! And the rest of this book is to help you get started with your own workcation! Even if it’s a small workcation, such as a short walk in a park after work, or an extended overnight adventure, it’s time to get started!


To learn more about how you can enhance your life, check out Workcation. It's available to borrow for free via an Amazon Kindle.  


Monday, March 16, 2015

Introducing the Workcation

This post is #7 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 

Our comfortable culture of working hard, not taking vacations, and taking forced “staycations” continues to transcend into the habits of our daily lives. Today, more and more Americans are dining “al desco” and enjoying “no resco.” Our culture is engrained to go, go, go! But at what cost? We need to take time for ourselves in order to have a balanced life and be refreshed.

Frequently, it can be major setbacks in our life that cause us to question our purpose and open our eyes to what we are really pursuing and if that matters to our life goals. I’ve endured various physical injuries, including my bicycle accident and lost close family members in my life, including my brother. These moments are all very painful –both on physical and emotional levels.  Having elements of your physical health removed from you or loosing loved ones to cherish these experiences with, causes your mind to value and cherish each prior experience. It also slaps your face and electrifies the mind to value each and every day as we don’t know what is around the corner. These various life moments taught me to identify moments in our life, where we can pursue our dreams and take full advantage of the time we have.

Sometimes major setbacks and also cause a person to quit everything and have an extended time to pursue their dreams. This may involve going on a cross country drive, visiting several countries in Europe, or starting a new job. My setbacks didn’t cause me to revolutionize my life, as I more than anything just wanted my old life back.  I didn’t quit my job and start to ride my bike across the United States to bring advocacy for safe streets. However, it did open my eyes to how I spent my time and what activities I valued.

As my face was slapped with the fragility of life, I realized that I needed to take more advantage of my after work time. I realized that I could explore my natural surroundings and have “mini-vacations” or workcations during the workweek. I started to go on hikes after work, or stop on my commute home to go for a walk on the beach. It was these moments that I spent in outdoors and with nature, which awakened my senses and caused me to reflect upon my life as the world also reflected on me. I was unplugged from technology and distractions of our hyper connected society. These “workcations” became the highlight of my workweek.

As I started to explore more and more, I wanted MORE. I wanted the ability to extend these feelings of nature’s solitude for a longer period; but I didn’t want to quit my job for it all. On the side, I tried to create my own line of successful mobile applications to fuel my early retirement, but it was met with mixed results. It provided the opportunity to enjoy more lattes, but not enough to buy a new house. I quickly realized that having a stable career and income was still important to me too!

As I tried to research opportunities to see more of the outdoors, I realized that camping may provide the best opportunity to be in the outdoors for an extended period of time. The experience of sleeping in a tent could provide the ability to be surrounded by nature and away from technology devices that kept me “connected.” I wanted to detach from technology and connect more with myself, thoughts, and nature.

       As I started to explore available campsites, my visions of sleeping under the stars, enjoying a hike under the moonlight, and contemplating life by a campfire quickly dissolved as I saw that the majority of local campsites were reserved for the next 6+ months. As my frustration increased due to the lack of unavailable campsites, I felt a sense of hopelessness. This sentiment caused me to rapidly click through the reservation calendar only to see occasional openings during the workweek. Could it be possible that I could go camp during the workweek? Could it be possible to camp and work? …And the first overnight workcation was born! I made a reservation for a two night stay at local beach campsite and the workcation was on!


To learn more about how you can enhance your life, check out Workcation. It's available to borrow for free via an Amazon Kindle.  


Monday, March 9, 2015

Staycations are Pointless!

This post is #6 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 

Don’t hate the title, before you read the explanation.

“Staycation” involves staying at home during your pay vacation time and enjoying leisure activities within driving distance, while sleeping at home during the night. The term achieved popularity during the subprime financial crisis of 2008. During this time period, American unemployment increased from 5% at pre-recession levels to over 10% by late 2009. Home prices plunged over 30% in a three-year period, causing millions of Americans to be underwater on their home or own more than the house was worth.  Additionally, the S&P 500 index declined over 57% from its peak in October 2007. As more Americans lost their jobs and saw their net worth decline, more and more became afraid of losing their jobs or being unable to pay for their mortgage.

During the 2008 financial crisis, more and more Americans were afraid to take regular vacations, because they didn’t want to show any sign of being not dedicated to their jobs. Additionally, some workers received reduced pay or furloughs, restricting the amount of disposable cash to enjoy a vacation away from home or suddenly being forced to stay at home for period of 1-2 weeks without pay. As these cutbacks trends magnified during the financial crisis, more and more Americans started taking staycations. The term was originally coined prior to the recession in 2005 by Canadian comedian Brent Butt. It took a few years to gain traction, but staycation became widely used in in summer 2008 as may families reduced their travel budgets due to lack of job opportunities, reduced pay, and high gas prices. 

The reason staycations are pointless is that it shouldn’t take reduced pay and lower stock and home prices to wake up your senses and desire to explore your local surroundings. You should already be exploring your local surroundings. According to The Great American Staycation, “a staycation is the most successful when you have a positive attitude and willingness to adjust the traditional notion of what a vacation is.” The attitude to accept a staycation was BOTH positive and negative. Americans were slapped in the face in 2008 and forced to realize spending time at a local park or visiting a local beach was the best option for their “vacation time,” as they had limited money to explore other options. The individuals how had a positive attitude were more accepting of the situation and probably had a more enjoyable time on their staycation. Studies also found that staycationers were tempted to go to work for part of the time or stay plugged into their work by checking email. The point of taking vacation time is to unplug and connect with yourself. As you connect with yourself, you grow and your ability to enjoy the essence of life expands.

The more we realize that unplugging and enjoying our surroundings enhances our lives, the more we feel compelled to do it regularly. We don’t need a dedicated “staycation” or “vacation” time to feel compelled to enjoy the world around us. We need the ability to enjoy life has it happens. We need the ability to take a break in our daily lives to enjoy our surroundings and either connect with our self or our loved ones. The ability to explore our world significantly increases as we realize that we have the power to choose were we spend our time and are not forced to take a vacation or “staycation” simply because we have to. We should want to explore life ourselves and can find time balancing our lives as we explore more. One of the best ways to explore our surroundings is by dedicating time during our workweek to find time for ourselves – on any scale. As we discover, we grow. As we grow, we our life expands and flourishes. And that is why, we all need to discover the workcation.


To learn more about how you can enhance your life, check out Workcation. It's available to borrow for free via an Amazon Kindle.  




Monday, March 2, 2015

No Vacation Nation: The habits of an overworked society

This post is #5 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 


This post is short, but it’s important. It’s full of statistics to share one important takeaway with you: take advantage of your rest time! No matter how you spend your time, it’s important that you spend it pursuing activities that interest you and to use your earned time off!

In today’s era, more and more workers, particularly Americans, are failing to take their vacation days. According to a recent study by Harris Interactive, an Internet-based market research firm, 57 percent of Americans ended 2011 with unused vacation time, failing to take, on average, 11 of their allotted days off — or 70 percent of what they rightfully earned. Other national surveys have calculated that as many as 66 percent of us keep working when we could be kicking back somewhere, leaving unused a total of 459 million vacation days. That’s millions of hours that can be spent relaxing, unplugging, connecting with family and friends, or simply just enjoying life! These statistics are not the norm. It’s estimated that Americans are taking less vacation then any point in the past 4 decades forfeiting over $52+ billion in time-off benefits in 2013.


The main reasons that workers fail to take their vacation time is that they are afraid of falling behind work, want to please their boss in order to keep their job, or don’t have enough money to take a “vacation” worthy of their expectations. Additionally, most workers who do not take vacation are “defensive overworking” or too busy trying to please their company or their boss. Our culture is constantly trying to please ourselves, coworkers, and bosses that “al fresco” has been replaced with “al desco” or eating our lunch at our desk during the workday. The reasons of not taking our vacations or allocated lunch breaks are all valid, but it doesn’t force an individual to live an endless pattern of commuting, working, and commuting. There is more to life than a cubicle and chasing the corporate ladder.

To learn more about how you can enhance your life, check out Workcation. It's available to borrow for free via an Amazon Kindle.