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The art of checking out

At the start of a new year there is always a lot of talk around goals, targets and intentions. Some clever people will say that some of your ‘big rocks‘ that you need to lock in as part of your intentions or goals for the year should include your longer holidays and times of rest, reflection and creativity (if you have not heard the great story about rocks, pebbles and sand – have a quick look at this 2 min video). 

Most successful people in both business and life will highlight the importance of taking proper time off, but if you’re anything like me, you might struggle to check out completely. After many years of working around the concept of balance and flow, I realised that my version of ‘checking out’ might look a bit different to others. 

Whether you are moving countries, working hard in your career or dealing with change or pressure in your life as a whole, these 5 strategies can be very helpful. If any (or all of them) of them resonate with you, feel free to use them in your life too. 

  1. Book your holidays for the next 12 months. Even if you don’t have the money to pay for them right now or the 100% approval from your boss yet, mark the holidays you’d like to take in your calendar. If you don’t write them down, the year will often just end up ‘just happening’ and you might not get the space or rest you really need. Please note this does not mean plan the details of every day during those holidays! Simply mark a time period off and roughly what you’d like to do with that time (stay-cation chilling in the house, heading overseas, camping or whatever else makes you happy). 
  2. Manage external expectations. Leading up to heading off, make sure that you decide how available you’d like to be for work, clients, family and friends. If you are flexible to check emails, let your stakeholders and clients know how often you’ll be checking. If you’d prefer to be completely off the grid, make sure to give people (work, friends and family) a heads up a while before you’re going. Set an out of office email (yes, you can do that on your personal email too!) to let them know when they can expect to hear from you.
  3. Decide on the theme. Yes, of course you’ll need to relax! However, depending what type of person you are, you might want to have a theme of something for your overall break (hiking, beach time, shopping, reading & learning or whatever else you enjoy). Much like work projects – having a clear theme helps you direct your thoughts and feel better about things. Again, this does not mean planning out all the detail! I’ll often decide beforehand if a holiday is mostly about resting, exploring or learning and then slot activities in that suit what I want to feel like while I’m away. 
  4. Capture your thoughts. When the mind relaxes we think of some of our most creative ideas. Have a notebook, phone, laptop handy if you want to be able to capture what your creative mind serves you. I love the concept of flow (see next step), which also means I can capture thoughts and ideas without having to know the full outline of how it fits together with other things in my life and business. I do prefer to limit technology to some extent while on holidays, so a good old fashioned notepad is my favourite tool.
  5. Allow flow. For me personally this is the blend of being and doing. Being in a relaxed, creative and happy space and doing things that helps me clear my mind and allow for more creativity and relaxation to come my way. I’ve always felt like my brain never sleeps, so I’ve stopped fighting it. Instead I allow my thoughts and activities to flow in a way that works for me. This might sound a bit abstract for some of you, but all it really comes down to is to be who you are. If your partner loves sleeping on the beach all day and that’s not your thing, that’s fine!

What are your best tips around ‘checking out’ and creating space? 

PS: If you’d like more tools around this you can join our community (for free!) via this link