After spending four weeks on summer leave, I found myself stressed and exhausted. To put it in another way, it didn’t go as I wanted. I didn’t feel refreshed, and I certainly didn’t feel ready to go back to work.
It wasn’t that I didn’t do enough of fun activities because I had scheduled a lot of fun activities, but I didn’t enjoy the time.
That got me wondering, what did I do wrong and how can I prevent the same thing to happen the next time?
80/20 analysis of your leave
I learned this method from Tim Ferriss episode on what he learned in 2016. At the end of each year, Tim looks into his entire calendar (day to day) and see which 20 percent of activities, experiences, or people produced 80 percent or more of his most positive emotions and outcomes. For the next year, he makes sure to schedule in more time on these activities, experiences, or with those people.
Moreover, he looks at which 20 percent of activities, experiences, or people produced 80 percent or more of his most negative emotions and outcomes. This method helps Tim remove or spend less time during the next year on these activities or with those people.
I found this method ingenious, as you then know what kind of experiences do have a positive effect on you, instead of guessing what you think will be best for you. That is, you do what you actually want/need, instead of what you think you want/need.
My plan had been to use this approach at the end of the year, but after my leave time I remembered the method and saw it as a great fit for evaluating the holiday.
Try to go through all your days
Tim mentions that it shouldn’t take too long; it takes him about an hour to go through an entire year. It took me about ten minutes, and two before I started to remember what I had done. But then I also had my 1 Second Everyday app to help me, as it’s one of my 2017 new year resolutions.
To get an overview, have a paper in front of you and draw six columns on it; one column for each positive activity, experience, person, and one for each negative. List all the positive and negative, not only those that were extraordinary. Listing all items will make it a lot easier to find which ones make up the 20 percent. Moreover, it gives you an incredibly good overview what you’ve done during your whole leave.
Even ’empty’ days
I found that it’s not just the days that you did things on that are important, but also the days you didn’t do anything.
For example, before my leave, I scheduled in a lot of fun activities to do. The schedule meant that I didn’t have much room for spontaneity the first two weeks, which in turn made me feel stressed out. On the very first days of my leave, I felt like all four weeks were over, that I only had one or two days left. So scheduling in a lot of fun activities is not something I want to do in the future.
What I noticed were that I had the positive emotions on days that I hadn’t planned anything and had lots of room to be spontaneous.
I learned, that I need to have more leeway for being spontaneous during my leaves, even if that means I’ll check off fewer things from my “I want to do this”-list. Preferable two-thirds of my leave should be left open for spontaneity.
Identify the 20 percent AND write them down
After you’ve listed all the activities, experiences, and people, identify the 20 percent. Highlight these and write them down (both positive and negative) somewhere where you can easily find them before your next leave or holiday. Maybe on your phone?
I put all my notes in Evernote, I write them on my computer or scan my journal, and then I have access to them from all my devices.
Moreover, I added a description why I felt positive or negative emotions to remember why I put these items on the list in the first place. Otherwise, I might think I’ve changed, and I don’t learn my lesson.
What I want to do more of next year
Except for casual and non-planned days, I’d like to spend some more time with my old friends from my hometown. The last couple of years I haven’t visited or spent that much time with my old friends from my hometown. Partly because only a few are there when I’m visiting, so I only visit my family for a couple of days (which is too few days for also spending time with my friends). During that period, I’d like to be able to play more board games and talk 🙂
I’d also want to have a bit more time for myself and work on my projects or be able to play computer games.
The hike we did during this summer was awesome, and I’d like to do another one during the next year, preferably a 3-day hike this time. Moreover, I’d like to do more spontaneous excursions to various places, where we can bring our food. Sort of like a day-long hike 🙂
I’d also want to spend more time with my friends here in Lund, and maybe arrange some event once per week 🙂
Which items are your 20 percent?
Which 20 percent of activities, experiences, or people brought produced 80 percent or more of your most positive and negative emotions? What can you do differently on your next leave to have a more rewarding holiday?
I’d like to hear your lessons in the comments below 🙂