Sun, Sand and … 47 New Emails – taking your work on holiday

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Happy Hour At the time of writing, I’m on holiday with my family in the Cook Islands.

Also at the time of writing, it’s Happy Hour at Lagoon Breeze Villas. The local girl who works the bar pours her liquor with a resort-appropriate heavy hand, and this cocktail of family-time perspective and 50 parts Galliano, one part straw, has me in an unusually reflective mood. I’m supposed to be writing about something specific this week, but I can’t remember what it is. I could find it in my Google Drive, of course, but I’ve run out of wifi credit and I’ve decided to impose an internet ban for the rest of the day.

Making time

There’s a lot of talk about making sure us busy professionals take downtime. That is, time away from work and business pressures – be it by getting out of the office early, turning off the phone, shutting the laptop … blah blah. I have a naturally engaged (obsessive?) personality, so enforcing downtime isn’t something that comes naturally to me. I know that’s the case for a lot of my colleagues, and many of us are guilty of imposing our drive on others more than we probably should. It’s part of what makes many of us successful, but it’s also something we need to reflect on from time-to- time.

The marvel of connectivity feeds this flame. All I need to do is get my credit card out, and I can be re-connected to anywhere in the known universe from my laptop or phone. And I can do that while I sit here watching the waves break on the reef in the distance, somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Worship the Computer

So today I find myself torn between worshipping at the altar of technology, and throwing my laptop into the lagoon. As I’m writing, I receive a lecture from a member of the resort housekeeping staff – why am I sitting here on my laptop while my children are playing at the beach? The fact that they’re not my children only makes her remark that I’m a good-looking man (her words, not mine) and I should hurry up and have some of my own. She has a point, about the going to the beach part at least. I’m in Rarotonga, it’s sunny, I should go for a swim.

Because if you can’t have time off work and relax on holiday, what’s the point of working hard? Winning at your job and in business is fun, satisfying, addictive even, but very few of us will be happy when we arrive at the big law firm in the sky, if we worked hard but sacrificed the things that really matter. Or, indeed, if our attitude to work sends us there prematurely.


The advice is simple, though it’s hard to follow – I know because I often fail to follow it. But it’s important to remember what it is:

  1. Set boundaries. This can be time where you don’t look at your phone. Making sure you’re out of the office at a specific time. Not working on weekends unless you absolutely must. Stuff like that.
  2. Exercise. I don’t necessarily mean running a marathon, but each day try to do something. I run, go to the gym – you might walk your dog, or ride your horse, or do Pilates. Get out there and do something that isn’t sitting at a desk.
  3. Eat properly. I love food, all of it. You should too – and mostly the good healthy stuff.
  4. Remember what is truly important. If Susan from Business Factory Limited is demanding you finish the work she’s sent you today, but today you’ve also promised to spend time with your kids, then make Susan wait. I’m not saying it’s OK to miss deadlines, but be realistic when you say what you can do and when. Those occasions where not doing the work today will cause truly catastrophic results are rare. And if you’re good, setting realistic deadlines won’t put your clients off.
  5. Make the most of your work time. Take some time to think about your job, or your role in your business, and whether you could do things more efficiently. Are there things you could do today which could mean you get more out of what you put in tomorrow? That’s the role we see Automio playing in helping businesses extract more value from IP that they already own.

And now it’s beach time.


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