With careful planning, you can enjoy a vacation. (Photo by Cynthia Price)
I recently returned from an almost two-week vacation and was disconnected from work the entire time. How was that possible given the following news?
In a May 2018 report by CBS News roughly 56 percent of workers surveyed that year said they touch base with work when they’re supposed to be taking a vacation break — up from 41 percent of workers in 2016. The survey included more than 2,800 workers from 28 U.S. markets.
Equally telling is that American workers forfeited nearly 50 percent of their paid vacation in 2017. And, nearly 10 percent take no vacation days at all. According to a study by Glassdoor, the fear of falling behind is the number one reason people aren’t using their vacation time.
For me it was all about pre- and post-planning. My pre-planning included limiting meetings in the two days prior to my departure. I also compiled a list of major projects with their status. I shared this with my team and boss so everyone knew where critical pieces stood. Colleagues agreed to keep two of the projects moving.
I also asked my team to send me an email each Friday with a summation of the week. This included updates on my projects as well as their work. They also included some fun details, which made me feel more connected.
This summation enabled me to delete lots of emails because I already knew the requests had been handled.
Upon my return, I blocked my calendar for my first morning back to the office. This allowed me to focus on my projects that needed action. In the remaining hour, I scheduled follow-up meetings and responded to emails. I also held a team meeting for quick updates.
By day’s end, I was back in the thick of things — feeling good about work and still reveling in my vacation respite.
Tomorrow is the first day of summer. Are you ready?
I fondly recall the lazy, unstructured days of summer as a child when we played outside until long past the streetlights came on. Usually, we were called in when the lightning bugs lit the night. Those unstructured days, though, were book ended by vacation and summer camps. A bit of structure made the other days that much more enjoyable.
A book is best read poolside in the summer. (Photo by Cynthia Price)
As an adult, I tend to follow a similar pattern. It’s a good summer when I visit my pool frequently. Once poolside, I relax with a book and a stack of magazines. When the sun beats down and the gentle breeze stops, it’s time to plunge into the water. I repeat frequently.
But I also like having some goals for the summer so I don’t feel as if I’ve frittered the summer away. Here are a few of my goals —
Conquer my book pile. As a child I always participated in the summer reading program at my library. As an adult, I have my own program — finish the books I own and don’t check too many out from the library. My goal is to read five to 10 books each month. I seldom turn my TV on during the summer and with all my pool time, this is a doable goal.
Explore. I’m planning to attend an exhibition on Pompeii at the science museum. At the art museum, I will learn about a Tibetan Buddhist’s journey toward enlightenment. I also have a list of new restaurants to check out.
Learn. I’m taking two online classes. One is about podcasting and the other is on workplace communication. I may also spring for a cooking class or two.
Do you have summer goals? If so, would you share them in the comments section?
Elaine Viets has written more than 30 mysteries in four bestselling series and she generously shared writing tips with a bunch of mystery writers.
Her tips included:
- Writing is an art, and it’s also a business. Know your competition! This could be a challenge given there are 1,400 mysteries published traditionally each year.
- Know your genre. Are you writing a cozy (no violence or sex), psychological suspense (the character is tested to the limit), hard-boiled (tough view of the world) or soft-boiled, which is also called a traditional mystery (think Sue Grafton)?
- The first chapter needs plot movement. Something has to happen – and quickly. If you want to learn to plot, she recommends creating a chapter by chapter plot summary.
- What is your point of view? She said writing with a third-person narrator is the most popular view in mysteries.
- Are you writing a stand-alone mystery or a series? She noted that thrillers tend to be stand-alone books. Whatever you write, Elaine recommends not killing off popular characters. She said, “Murder with restraint.”
- The middle is the most dangerous part of the book. “You need to have surprises,” Viets said. “You have to keep the plot moving with plot twists and red herrings.”
- Each chapter should end with an unanswered question or with a cliffhanger so the reader will want to go to the next chapter.
- The main character has to have a private life and a flaw. “Wounded people look for answers,” Viets said.