How to Live Life in Vacation Mode (Without Getting Fired)


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First of all, you should absolutely be using up all your vacation days. Scientific research shows that employees feel more creative after taking a vacation, which contributes to their success at work. Time off is also linked to better productivity and job satisfaction. So if you’re part of the 46% of workers who aren’t using up their PTO days, make it a priority to get something on the books.

But research shows that post-vacation happiness lasts for about two weeks. Then, happiness levels return to whatever they were before. They’re also expensive and infrequent. The average full-time employee in America gets between eight and 15 paid days off a year—not a whole lot.

Experts tell GQ that a better strategy for overall mental health and avoiding burnout is to incorporate vacation-like aspects into your routine—especially on the weekends. Cassie Mogilner, PhD, a professor of behavioral decision-making at UCLA Anderson School of Management and the author of Happier Hour, told us about one study she spearheaded that split participants into two groups. One group was told to spend their weekends as if they were on vacation. The other half was told to spend their weekends as they normally do. You can probably guess which group ended up being happier. In fact, Dr. Mogilner says the weekend vacationers were significantly happier.

But how do you live in vacation mode while still holding down a job?

1. Get out of your routine

Part of what makes a vacation a vacation is going someplace new. Your surroundings are completely different and you’re not tied to your normal routine. “Humans are novelty seekers,” says psychologist Richard Davidson, PhD, author of The Emotional Life of Your Brain. But he says that you don’t have to travel for novelty; spending your weekends doing activities out of your routine is a way to break up monotony.

Making this a reality takes conscious effort. There’s likely hiking trails and towns worth exploring within a few hours’ drive of where you live, but unless you plan in advance to go, Saturday morning will come and you’ll inevitably feel drained and decide to stay home doing nothing—again. So plan your local excursions in advance just like you would a vacation. You don’t have to wait until the weekends to do it either. Maybe you make it your mission to eat at a different neighborhood restaurant every Thursday night—that counts too.

2. Get your chores done during the week

Dr. Mogilner says that something that set the weekend vacationers apart from the other group in the study was that they didn’t spend their weekends doing chores like laundry, mowing the yard, or cleaning. Anything that feels like a chore to you, she recommends doing during the week so that your weekends are wide open for rest and relaxation.



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