The News Chair

Getting the Most from your Time Off

January 25, 2012 by Tiffany Whisner

We’re back from the holidays and, as a PR/marketing professional, diving head first back into one of the most stressful jobs of 2012, according to CareerCast. You might already be

planning some coveted vacation time. Not only is it a time to relax and refresh, but according to recent research, it gets your creativity juices flowing.

A 2011 IBM global survey of CEOs found that creativity was regarded as the “most crucial factor for future success” in a “highly volatile, increasingly complex business environment.”

In his article, Seth Schulman offers some simple suggestions for structuring your next vacation to maximize your own creative development:

  • Use time away to catch up on sleep. Most of us don’t get enough of it, and it’s essential for performing creative tasks well.
  • Create psychological distance from work. It’s tempting to keep our smartphones on, even if we travel to another country. Unfortunately, that might damage our ability to replenish our creative stores. Several studies have shown that just thinking about things distant from the here and now can enhance creativity.
  • Vacation with people you love. When participants in one study were “primed with thoughts of love,” they grew more creative. On the other hand, they became less creative “when primed with carnal desire.” (I’ll leave it to you to figure out what to do with that…)
  • Read something crazy. Those of us who like to read might be tempted to choose the latest business book or a title that otherwise bears directly on our work. Think again: Research has found that reading absurd stories by Kafka increased the ability to recognize hidden patterns. Apparently, absurdity forces our minds to work harder to make meaning out of what we encounter, thus enhancing our creative skills.
  • Play games — especially video games. Believe it or not, a recent study has found that playing video games makes kids more creative.
  • Spend time with your kids. If you spend time interacting with children, you might find yourself more inclined to think like them. And one study has found that just thinking about life from the point of view of our 7-year-old selves improves our creative performance.

And when your vacation is over, plan a mindful re-entry into work. Come up with a plan to deal with the onslaught of post-vacation emails and other work, so that the effect of the stress doesn’t sap up all the creative energies you’ve had so much fun unleashing during your time off.