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Marketing Design Dispatch

This is your sign to take a longer break

How do you use your vacation time, Reader?

Do you plan a long trip? A bunch of shorter ones?

Do you just take it when something comes up (like a wedding or perhaps a concert)?

Do you take it only when you feel burnout approaching? Do you even use your vacation time at all?

I've just returned from an 18-day break from work.

I spent the time driving around the Ring Road in Iceland, hiking every day and seeing too many waterfalls to count. (here's proof!)

I think I'm pretty good at taking time off. I see my 4-week PTO (paid time off) balance as something that needs to be used each year, and I budget it out like the valuable resource that it is; planning when I'll take leave at various points in the year.

Normally I spend my vacation time in small chunks – a week off here, a long weekend there – but the difference I felt in spending a longer stretch of time away from my desk is remarkable.

Let's be honest. When you work in tech, it is damn hard to switch your brain off from work-mode.

While it's great to take time off in small chunks because you get more regular breaks to reset, it's harder to achieve a full disconnection from work in just a week. You know how it goes: you spend the first day or two thinking about things you forgot to do, or wondering (maybe worrying) about a project and how it's progressing. Perhaps on the third day you're thinking about work less and by the fourth or fifth day you're not even thinking about work at all! Success!

But then as your time off comes to an end on the sixth and seventh day you start thinking about what you need to do when you get back, and the low-level stress of all the things you're responsible for starts to creep back in.

At least, that's how it usually goes for me.

Please tell me I'm not alone in this?

I'm envious of folks who can leave all thoughts of work behind the moment they close their laptop for the day. While refining my daily routine has done wonders for decreasing the amount of time I spend thinking about work, I still struggle to switch off and over the past few years especially I've been on the brink of burnout much more often than I'd like to admit.

Spending over two weeks away from my laptop meant I got at least a whole week of time where I was absolutely not thinking about work. My only concerns for the day were about what the weather was doing, and whether I should have the salmon or the arctic char for dinner. It was wonderful.

Even though I'm back at work now, I know that longer stretch of time off did wonders for my brain and body. I'm finding myself more adaptable to the changes that happened while I was out (tech moves fast y'all!) and it was easier to switch my work brain off last night despite having a to do list as long as the Icelandic Ring Road. 😅

Since I've now used up a large portion of my annual leave I'm not sure when I'll get to take such a long break again, but going forward I'll be prioritising one 2-week+ break a year, even if it means going a longer stretch of time without a shorter break.

I hope that this email gets you thinking about booking in some time off – perhaps more than you'd usually take – so that you can give your brain and body the reset it deserves too.

See you next week where we'll be back to normal programming with marketing design inspiration,

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