This weekend marks the end of a two week vacation for me. And it’s the longest period I’ve managed to not focus on work in a long while.
Before the holidays started I promised myself to completely ignore the office for once, and I shut down my Mac, since that is the device that would tempt me the most to quickly do some work. And since my Mac also runs dozens of scripts monitoring different services, chances that they would alert me and drag my mind back to work would just be too great.
So at the start of these two weeks I deferred all outstanding OmniFocus tasks to 2015, removed work email from my iOS devices and disconnect the (always active) VPN connection running between my home and office routers.
Shutting down my Mac also meant: I’ve never used my iPad more than these last couple of days, and thanks to apps like Workflow and the major improvements in the Dropbox app these last months, I don’t really need my Mac at all anymore to do 90% of daily tasks. iOS 8 really did change iOS for the better!
Now, two weeks later I’m actually looking forward to working again. Two weeks of vacation, unsurprisingly, reloaded my batteries.
But these last couple of days the feeling of relaxation was slowly ebbing away. Not because work was just a weekend away, but because while walking across town, drinking coffees or taking long showers small thoughts and ideas kept coming up. Inspiration for new projects, solutions for issues I was struggling with at the office, things I knew I had to remember to do.
In my desire to have a work free holiday I had forgotten rule number one of Getting Things Done: get it out of your head. By forcing myself to do nothing work-related, I hadn’t done anything with the random thoughts that occur on a daily basis. So by focussing on not working I had basically forced my head to keep churning on those same couple of thoughts over and over again because I didn’t want to forget them once my vacation was over.
So today I went to my favorite coffee bar with a blank Field Notes and a good pen and wrote down everything that was on my mind. Five pages later I had dozens of ideas, thoughts and tasks written down. I won’t act on them, hell, I’m not even going to process them. But at least now they’re written down in an unordered list and I can forget about them until next week.
That feeling of stress? Gone.
Vacation doesn’t mean ignoring work related thoughts. It means writing them down and deferring them so you can focus on something else. Or nothing.