500 emails to go: How to Take Time Off

I just returned from a two week vacation. Counting two maternity leaves (during which I worked, I’m almost ashamed to admit), that is probably the longest period of time I’ve gone in nearly 10 years without checking my email.

It was terrifying. The number of messages that popped up to greet me Monday afternoon (because really with meetings I didn’t get to even open my inbox until 1 pm) was a ridiculously high number that usually only happens during high conference season.

A weird thing happened today though. Even with that high number of emails waiting for me, I found myself more relaxed on the phone with people I’m not normally relaxed with. I really listened (even during the rambling parts) and I didn’t sigh (as much) during the parts of the conversations that made me frustrated. My brain worked smarter too. I’m not completely through all my email, but I am quick and clear on the responses that I’m penning.

Turns out all those articles about how vacation will help you live longer and make you more relaxed weren’t kidding.

I’m surrounded by speakers, meetings professionals and entrepreneurs who thrive on hard work and long hours. Which is why when one of them I admire quite a bit, Stephen Shapiro, talked to me for the first time about his 20/80/20 principle I laughed. And then I stopped and read some more about his new business model and thought about how Stephen takes more vacations than anyone I know.


Every time I see him, he’s got another great story, usually involving a beach, a hot tub, and somewhere tropical. And he’s hugely successful with his business. He’s also got this interesting idea that, for over a year now, has been paying off dividends: only working one hour a day. Now, I’m not certain that I can cut back that much but it’s a great concept that is helping me re-orient my brain around how to take (and enjoy) my time off.

I love Stephen’s parting words:
“If you only spent 20% of your time extracting 80% of the value from your business, this gives you 80% of your time to do something different – something more fulfilling, something more enjoyable, or something that can provide even greater long-term value.”

Isn’t that somewhere we’d all like to be? Take a look at how you’re managing and planning your time this year. I know that I’m trying to.

One thought on “500 emails to go: How to Take Time Off

  1. Pingback: Walk Your Talk |

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