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CRE Opinion: Want to Get Things Done? Take a Vacation.

Before you do, though, you’ll want to make sure you have all your ducks in a row.
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PermenterKathy_YoungerPartners
Kathy Permenter of Younger Partners

It seems counterintuitive, but vacations can actually make you more productive.

According to a study by Oxford Economics, not taking vacation time harms productivity and the economy. The study suggests that 42 percent of employees with benefits finished the previous year without using all of their PTO. On average, employees left 3.2 days of unused time on the table. As brokers, we do not have Paid Time Off, so we need Productive Time Off.

So, how does a vacation increase productivity? It’s all about focus. My teammates will attest that my production and mindset are definitely amped up a notch or two (or more) before a vacation; probably because there is a deadline. My mindset is to get it done before I leave. The preparation I do before taking time off has to be thorough because I prefer to spend my vacation enjoying my family and friends. There is no purpose in taking a holiday if you can’t truly bask in it.

Here are three things that can make you more productive before you leave on vacation:

  • Be a predictor. Look into the future—the time you’ll actually be away. You want to predict any situation that may arise at work while you’re gone. Talk to your peers, your boss, your deal contacts, and your clients to see if they see something that you’re missing. As you inform all of the above about your impending departure, it’s amazing how many deals progress and finalize. Leave your teammates with all the details on transactions so they can easily relay information to clients and brokers and keep the ball rolling. Our company calendar shows everyone’s out-of-office schedule usually with some personal detail about their trip, so we know their schedule, but also share in the excitement for their time off. It’s a huge benefit if you have one person in town that loves you enough to handle issues that you can’t predict, like a hailstorm that breaks all of your sky lights while you are in Africa (yes, that is a true story). And even better when they don’t call you to worry you while you are gone! My to-do list includes a complete itinerary sent to someone in the office and many family members. Don’t forget to leave health insurance, medical consent forms for all your family, and all possible emergency contacts at your house from plumbing to alarm systems to Internet (the worst possible disruption for some at my house)! Keeping this list updated makes your vacation preparation much smoother than doing that mental checklist while you’re on the beach or safari.
  • Pretend you’re not coming back. This isn’t as morbid as it sounds. But, that is the kind of order in which you want to leave your work and home life before you leave. Interestingly, I’m probably in greater danger driving on the roads in DFW than on vacation. There’s something about leaving town that gets me motivated to make sure all my bills are paid, paperwork organized, and deals have reached a completion point. Could someone at work know what is going on with you if they had to pick up the ball and run with it for a while? Is it clear where you stand on projects and processes? Make it so before you leave. What about at home? Grab that to-do list that you have had for awhile and get those items checked off before departing for vacation.
  • Plan re-entry. This is where you get productive. Take a deep breath and with a mind filled with fun memories and a rejuvenated spirit, dig in to the pile of mail and email. Be thankful for your teammates; some tequila from a Mexico trip is always a nice re-entry item for your vacation home team. Re-entry can take a few days; know this and give yourself a chance to get back to full speed.

Vacation is a great way to be productive. Don’t forget to have your next one planned before you get home.

However, it doesn’t stop there. You want to get your house in order…host a party…at your house, of course!

Kathy Permenter is co-managing partner at Younger Partners.

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