I’ve gotten lost on the great wall of China, climbed the highest mountain on Borneo, Island hopped the Philippines, mountain biked Andorra and photographed wildlife from the roof of a moving Land Rover in Tanzania. I’m reminiscing all of these things while I’m watching the sun sizzle into the Andaman sea on idyllic Phi Phi island, Thailand.
It would be easy to think that I must have been on a 2 year sabbatical to make time for all of these wonderful journeys. But on the contrary, the past two years, other than being a treasure trove of traveling memories, have been the most productive and rewarding years of my young career. I’ve started 2 companies and learned more about the challenges in my industry that I could ever learn from an educational institution.
I’m not trying to flaunt any success I might have had or in some way try to show off. The important point that I want to make is this: A big part of my productiveness happens because of all the traveling and not despite of it. Traveling fuels my inspiration, it serves as anchor points in a somewhat unroutinely schedule and enables the sort of compartmentalized focus you need when trying to do your very best.
Traveling is like a shimmering oasis of off-time that can feed your productiveness in the weeks leading up to a journey. But rather than ‘switching off’ when you’re away, I often find that my mind is racing in new lanes brought on by a foreign environment and the lurking sense of adventure. While it may not be work in the practical sense it can give you a fresh perspective on current projects or bring about entirely new ideas that you’d never have thought up in the comfort of the known. When I get back home, I’m usually energized and itching to launch into new projects or wrap up old ones. Almost as if holding back work is like impounding water in a dam. Upon my return the floodgates of ideas and executions are opened and comes crushing through todo lists with renewed momentum.
1. Leading up to an adventure I race to complete ongoing projects and tie up loose ends. Energized by the closing deadline i’m sometimes able to squeeze in several weeks of work in a short timespan.
2. While i’m traveling I often find that my thoughts move unencumbered in new directions. Clarity is brought on by new experiences. Distance and unfamiliarity somehow opens new doors and presents direction for current projects or spawns entirely new ideas.
3. When I get back home i’m starved for work and I usually experience a boost of productivity in the following weeks.
At least for me, i’ve felt that each vacation has been an investment, not just in the usual good-for-your-soul sense, but also as a healthy business decision. I’m aware that some of these concepts are reserved for entrepreneurs and people with the luxury of a flexible job/life, but I still think the duality of vacation and work can be viewed as coexisting and enforcing rather than being each others opposites.