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Too Busy? Take a Vacation

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Do you know what the most productive day of the year is for the typical business owner or manager?

Mondays? Maybe for some. Pay day? No. Labor Day? Just kidding…

It’s the day before you take vacation. This little known fact has actually been researched and documented. Why is this so?

I just returned from my family’s vacation week at the beach. I had my fill of fast food, sun tan lotion, and long walks on the beach. Several days before our departure, I honestly never thought I would finish the work that had stacked up on my desk. Proposals to complete. Projects to finish. Phone calls to make. Post-it reminders all over my desk threatening to take my entire workspace hostage.

Then it happened. All week I had made considerable progress on my work but I was certain that I would end up stuffing my briefcase with leftover work and dragging it to the beach for it’s completion. When I woke up the day before our departure, I was like a man possessed. I started off taking an inventory of every task I needed to finish by the end of the day. Next, I wrote an action plan for the day listing each task and estimating the time needed for completion. I than prioritized the list based on each task’s relative importance. I also grouped activities by the type of technology necessary for completion i.e. telephone, computer, automobile. There was not a second to waste.

I even found myself tackling several tasks I had procrastinated on for weeks. It just seemed to make sense to tie up all the loose ends. I also made several new and follow-up client contacts that I had been too easily putting off for way too long. Each of the calls were very productive. Why had I been putting off these inquiries?

I actually finished all of my tasks by mid-afternoon. I had time to spare. Time to pack and begin lugging out all of the beach paraphernalia. These chairs and buckets seem to multiply like jackrabbits each year.

What is it about going away on vacation that creates such a mentality of urgency? For me, I believe it is due to several factors:

1. Not wanting to take work with me on vacation.
2. A concern that I may never return from vacation (I draw a mental picture of Jaws) and the desire to make sure all of my pending tasks are either completed or on schedule.
3. A strong desire to leave town on a very positive note. Projects completed. Customers contacted. Fires extinguished.
4. A strong desire not to return from vacation on a negative note. Projects behind schedule. Clients complaining. Numerous four-alarm fires.

Zig Ziglar, famous motivational speaker and author, provided several reasons why individuals are so productive the day before vacation in his book “Over The Top”. First, such individuals tend to set goals for that day which than requires a high level of commitment. Next, he found that we tend to get started early this particular day on achieving these goals. He also found that we tend to work at a higher level of enthusiasm on this day before vacation, which can’t help but impact our productivity. We are also far less likely to procrastinate this day as well. Instead, we focus on finishing one task or project before leaping into the next one. What a novel thought…

In his research, Ziglar also took note of the fact that we tend to do the “tough” jobs early on this special day. He reasons that “If you have to swallow a frog, why waste time looking at it?”

Workers on their day before vacation also tend to be extremely focused and disciplined in their efforts according to Ziglar. Rather than looking for interruptions in their work, we avoid than as much as possible. Too much stuff to get done. Too little time to waste.

What impact will your individual efforts on this day have on your employees or co-workers? It’s possible that they may wish you had left on vacation one day earlier. More likely, is that your commitment, your enthusiasm, and determination that will become contagious. It will have a multiplier effect across the organization as others feel the impact of your robust level of productivity.

That leaves us with one remaining question. Is it possible to “bottle” this Day Before Vacation mentality and apply it (with caution) everyday? Can we create the same level of urgency, enthusiasm, and commitment five days a week, 50 weeks a year? Why not? I need some time to consider these questions. I need some time to further mull over the application of my findings. I need…another vacation.

Tim Fulton is a nationally recognized small business consultant and management trainer. He is also a very popular public speaker. Tim can be reached at timfulton@hotmail.com.

Too Busy? Take a Vacation
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About Tim Fulton
Tim Fulton is a nationally recognized small business consultant and management trainer. He is also a very popular public speaker. Tim can be reached at timfulton@hotmail.com. WebProNews Writer


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