New research shows that getting away from it all really can help you perform better at your job.
Admit it: You try to be a hard-charger, pushing the envelope at work day after day without a break. Your 24/7 work life may not be as productive as you think, though. A recent Air New Zealand study (http://www.vacationgap.com/findings/) carried out by NASA-trained scientists found that vacationers experienced an 82 percent increase in job performance post-trip.
While the study emphasized the value of vacations lasting between one and two weeks, it also made clear the necessity of changing venue and "shutting down" to get the most from a break. So even if your retreat lasts no longer than a Friday afternoon, these suggestions might make it more effective:
Give yourself permission. If the well-documented health benefits of taking a complete break from work aren't convincing enough, take the productivity benefits to heart. Treat this time like the important appointment it is, and let others know you will not be available, or let them know certain points at which you will call in for messages.
Make a plan. Mark your time off on your schedule (a day monthly, or a chunk of time once or twice a year), and take time to decide what to do. Pursue a nearly-abandoned hobby. Dine at a four-star restaurant you've been dying to try. The more you plan ahead, the less you'll have to think about the details during your break. There's just one rule: Whatever you do, it shouldn't have anything to do with business.
Get a fresh perspective. You don't have to go far to change your outlook, though you should get out of the house. Play tourist by exploring your region the way a visitor might. Or spend a weekend at a local hotel and take advantage of its spa or other amenities.
Go tech-free. It bears mentioning that you shouldn't spend your escape time anywhere near a cell phone, BlackBerry or computer. Keep these temptations out of sight and out of mind.
Share the benefits. A retreat may be just the thing your whole team needs to clear out the cobwebs and reconnect with one another. Plan a day or weekend in pleasant surroundings, with or without family, where your team can learn new ways to communicate with each other and break free from your routine.