Have you been spinning your wheels at work the whole of last year and but still feeling unaccomplished?
If you are wondering why, this could be because work productivity declines sharply after 55 working hours a week, and emotional intelligence and decision-making abilities plummet as we grow tired¹. In fact, successful people would take time off from work for their families and vacations¹. These just mean that working long hours does not translate to better work performance and career success. Instead, you may be simply jeopardising your career.
The New Year marks the perfect time for you to rethink the way you have been managing your time and to start including rest days in your plan for the year. Here are some ideas of how you can make the most out of the long weekends and keep yourself going for the year.
Stay comfortable at home
A vacation overseas is usually the first thing that comes to our mind when we think about making use of our long weekends, but long weekends are also the best time for staycations, not necessarily in a luxurious hotel but simply in the comfort of your own home. Nothing beats not having the alarm clock go off in the morning or slouching on the couch in your favourite pyjamas. Contrary to what many people think, a study revealed that a significant fraction of vacationers in fact, do not derive more happiness than those who stayed home2. Instead of trying to fit in travel plans into each long weekend, why not set aside some weekends to be at home to reconnect with your family, complete the tasks that you have not been able to or simply just do a little of nothing to unwind and recharge. You will appreciate not having to go through the trouble of planning an overseas trip, waking up to catch a 6am flight and struggling to maximise your limited time abroad.
Be a local tourist
Other than travelling abroad, you can also make use of your long weekends to travel around Singapore to discover and appreciate our local attractions and heritage.
Start by creating a bucket list of things to do locally over the long weekends to get you better acquainted with Singapore. Some pocket-friendly activities include a free visit the newly opened, Instagram-worthy National Gallery Singapore which offers a range of exhibitions, talks and performances that are refreshed regularly, and the Gardens by the Bay which hosts various events of different themes such the annual Christmas Wonderland to bring visitors new experiences each time they visit the place.
Go on a long vacation
That being said, overseas vacations are still a good form of break which take us away from the office and bring us new experiences.
However, instead of going on multiple short trips in a year, you may want to consider planning for a longer vacation. While taking short weekend getaways can give you the instant gratification of a vacation without having to take too many days off or spend too much, a longer holiday gives you more time to really immerse yourself in the destination and recharge. A short holiday also means that you are spending a larger proportion of your vacation time on shuttling from places to places which could leave you with little time to truly vacate and come home yearning for more.
A writer on Forbes also shared that 10 is the magic number for vacations³. That is because a 10-day vacation is short enough to encourage you to completely offload your duties at work without guilt, but also leaves you with sufficient time to truly recharge and unwind. It also encourages you to budget your finances so that you can cover all your expenses for the 10 days.
Maximise your annual leave by planning your long vacation around the long weekends. A good period to do so this year would be at the end of the year where you will need only four annual leave to take a 10-day vacation from 23 December to 1 January.
Plan your vacation well
Apart from planning your vacations around the long weekends, a well-planned vacation also means working out the logistics of the trip in advance such as flight and hotel bookings so you need not deal with the eleventh hour stress, getting yourself acquainted with the country's culture and transport system by carrying out thorough research before your trip so can navigate confidently when you are there, and to purchase travel insurance so you can travel with a peace of mind. Poorly planned stressful vacations can be counterproductive because they diminish the positive benefits and happiness you meant to gain from your vacation⁴. So plan your vacation well to get the most out of it.
 Entrepreneur: 4 Ways Successful People Balance Work and the Rest of Their Lives
 The New York Times: How Vacations Affect Your Happiness
 Forbes: 10 Reasons To Take A 10-Day Vacation
 Harvard Business Review: When a Vacation Reduces Stress — And When It Doesn't