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Why don’t you postpone your vacation?


How often have you had to put off a vacation because you had a lot of work to do and thought you needed to finish it first? And how many times, following the results of a completed task, you again could not be distracted by something pleasant, because you again had things to do? Probably more than once. Which is understandable, because you can’t just go and relax when you have unfinished work. Or is it possible?

In the summer of 2017, data from a study by psychologists Ed O’Brian and Ellen Roney were published in the journal Psychological Science on this topic. In total, they conducted three experiments (one with adults and two with students) to find out whether the quality of rest is affected by whether it was done before work or after. As a rule, people believe that if they rest before work, then rest will be unproductive, since they will think about working moments. However, as a result of all three experiments, where people were asked to perform relaxing activities before and after work, it turned out that this did not affect the pleasure they received from rest. So, the results of the study indicate that we worry too much and work too much for the sake of rewards in the future, which, in fact, can bring no less pleasure right now.

The point here, of course, is not that you should quit unfinished work and run to have fun or surf the Internet every five working minutes, thereby distracting and procrastinating. The point is not to “plow” tirelessly and weekends and not limit yourself to rest when you need it.

Often people work overtime, wanting to finish all the work, but the truth is that no matter how much they do, there will always be more. Then what is the point of killing yourself if the situation does not change for the better? If people mentally put leisure in the last place, they will not be able to take advantage of the healing effect of rest. And in this case, burnout and dissatisfaction with work are inevitable. Continuing to constantly postpone the pleasant until the “right” moment, we risk not waiting for it at all.

If you recognized yourself in this example and don’t know how to get more joy out of life, here are some recommendations:

1) Ask yourself the question — why is it difficult for you to take a break and please yourself?

Yes, it’s true that some types of pastime really reduce performance, but no one offers them to you. You always have a choice. But if you think that working after a rest will spoil the effect for you and you think that it will be much more pleasant for you if you wait and then relax, then you are mistaken. Of course, sometimes it’s still worth putting this prize aside a little. But rest before work can bring no less pleasure.

2) Visualize your vacation.

If it’s still difficult for you to decide to take a break before you finish an important project, make a list of what you would like to do in your free time. This will help you to be reminded of the positive effect of rest. It is unlikely that thoughts about work will interfere with a good time.

3) Put the rest in the first place when you have “nothing burning”.

Allow yourself small breaks, even if you haven’t finished the work yet. Pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and how you will feel about work when you return to it.

Intuition often tells us that it is bad to rest until the work is completely finished, thereby not even letting us try and feel what it really is. Try to take a short break at least once. In the future, it will be useful to you when you make a choice between work and rest.

Allowing yourself to be happy is not a problem and it will not affect your performance (of course, if it is a healthy rest). Whether to wait for the right time for a break or to suspend work and rest for a while is entirely up to you. Either way, you’ll get satisfaction, and that’s what’s really important.

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