3 Ways Busy Meeting Pros Can Get Much-Needed Recovery Time

Europeans—who take up to six weeks of vacation a year—think Americans are crazy. And maybe they are—according toFortune magazine, U.S. employees leave 429 million vacation days on the table each year. And it gets worse: While 40 percent of executives think employees would be more productive if they took vacations, 72 percent of those same senior execs said they wouldn’t take unlimited vacation time if it were offered!

Those of you who work in the meetings industry—the industrious planners, bicoastal professional speakers, and widely roaming suppliers—probably need that rest and recovery time more than most. You’re constantly on the go—another day, another hotel/ballroom/airport/city/country. It all can sap your energy if you don’t take time for yourself.

You need to take planned vacation and downtime after major events, but do you? Are you able to totally disconnect from responsibilities, technology, and e-mail? (OK, I will admit that e-mail blackouts may not be possible without traveling to an alternate universe!

Here are three strategies that can help you actually take the time off that your body, spirit, and family crave.

1. Plan early

For many years, my honey and I have huddled over our calendars in the cold heart of January to plan the trips we will take over the course of the coming year. Your major events are already on the calendar. Why not block out some time after those events to enjoy something that you love to do with people you love being with?

2. Create variety

schedule a variety of timeframes, locations, and adventure or relaxation timeouts based on your needs and budgets. While there are lots of people who would love to just take some time off and stay home, I’m not a stay-cation kinda girl—my office is in my home and I would just work the whole time. Could you discover local gems by being a tourist in your own town? Ask your colleagues for their recommendations. Consider visiting a new spot, driving instead of flying, building in adventure, or visiting art galleries or taking a walking tour. There are many online tools you can use to leverage community events, support local initiatives, and experience cities and towns in a completely new way.

Can you and your family help plan a trip together, perhaps even in one of the gorgeous locations that will be hosting one of your events?

3. Go offline

this is the toughest ask for many in this industry —and me—but it’s not impossible! Can you create an out-of-office message that bounces back to an alternative person on your team who will help out while you are away? Can you avoid being sucked into the Facebook vortex and, instead of focusing on others’ lives, focus on creating memories with those you love?

Get outside! Hike up a mountain, wander along a path in a national park, collect shells on a beach, fish in a lake—and notice how much happier you are, how much deeper you sleep, and how much healthier you feel when you invest time in being active while you are recharging.

Meeting professionals who want to excel daily should view recovery time as non-negotiable. If you want to accelerate your leadership, be a productive contributor, serve your guests with more energy, take time off. You will be more fun to work with, you will be more focused and energized, and you will create memories with people you care about.

Pay attention to what matters: You, your health, and your loved ones all benefit when you schedule recovery time. Book yours today!

Author and Speaker, Neen James

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