We’ve all been there: you spend weeks (or, if you’re me, months) planning the perfect vacation, you make a comprehensive to-do-before-I-head-out list, you set a friendly but firm OOO auto-response. And then, finally, you’re on a tropical beach, fruity drink in one hand, and with the other you’re scrolling through work email. It’s official: you have a problem.
Vacations—real, no-work-email vacations—increase our well-being, creativity, and performance, and act as a booster shot against burnout. In other words, for most of us being great at our jobs depends on our ability to not think about our jobs.
Make it a habit to take small breaks. Here are three scientifically-backed nudges to help you start building your vacation muscles.
Create work—life transitions
Your brain will benefit from a signal that tells it, “Work is over!” Pick a time or place that you can use to trigger a mindset shift (e.g. a specific stop sign or train station on your commute). When you get there, take 2 minutes to reflect on what you accomplished at work that day, then shift your focus to your non-work life.
Learn something new
It may sound surprising, but learning something new—outside work—can help you feel more resilient and refreshed while you’re on the clock. Try dedicating a weeknight to a hobby or reading up on a subject that’s new to you.
Set a non-work goal
Commit to one simple thing you’ll start doing for your well-being. For example, silence work-related notifications on the weekends, or schedule time each day for a quick, head-clearing walk. Don’t be surprised if you start feeling more productive. Danish students who were given a short break before taking a test got significantly higher scores than their peers who didn’t get any time to relax. Bonus: share your plan with a teammate who can help you stick to it!
Try it the Humu way
Here are a few things we do to stay connected when we’re not together in person:
Before she heads out, People Scientist Rachel Callen sets herself a calendar invite with a list of things she needs to do when she gets back. Hello worry-free vacation.
Engineer Annie Lee (who was recently out on her honeymoon!) pauses Slack notifications until 8am the morning she gets back in the office.
And finally, our CEO Laszlo Bock chimed in from a few days off to tell me he couldn’t be much help on this one—and pointed me towards research on the differences between “segmenters” and “integrators” at work.
You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers
Each month, we pick a question from a reader and offer tactical tips on how to handle their particularly thorny work-related issue. Ingrid asked: What should you do when a colleague comes to you, visibly upset?
A particularly useful tip from our People Scientist Molly Sands: “To help the other person feel heard, confirm that you understand their perspective. Use language that reflects what they said to you, and be careful not to minimize their emotions. Underestimating someone’s feelings tends to be far costlier than overestimating them.” More from Molly in her “Four ways to keep your cool in a workplace confrontation” article.
What’s happening at Humu:
We were thrilled to formally announce Cass R. Sunstein, Adam Grant, Katherine Milkman, Ethan Burris, and Amy Wrzesniewski as advisors to Humu. We’re looking forward to partnering with these five experts to make work better for everyone.
We also celebrated our office expansion in true Humu style (we’re still working on desks, but that didn’t stop us). If you’d like to be one of the new faces in our new spaces… we’re hiring!
Summer hasn’t slowed us down: our CEO Laszlo Bock spoke to Yale Insights about how the occasional nudge can make you better at your job, and both argued that you learn best when you learn less and offered advice on how to support a grieving colleague in Harvard Business Review; Chief Privacy Officer Lea Kissner outlined how to anonymize data when slicing is involved for the IAPP; I (Liz Fosslien) talked about how emotions can be your secret superpowers at work with First Round Capital.