The Art Of The Staycation

November 8, 2017

For most people, there are two types of vacation: the totally-checked-out-on-a-beach vacation or the on-the-move sightseeing variety.

For me, the former is not an option. Sitting around in the heat next to a vast body of water sounds just shy of miserable. I do really enjoy the “visit new places and take it all in” kind of getaway, but man, do they take a lot of thought and energy. My best trip ever was to Argentina and Chile, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

But for my money and my time off, there’s nothing quite like an extended staycation. I just rocked one of the best ever in October… an 11-day slice of heaven that got me caught up on everything I never have time to do in everyday life.

It may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but I would argue it’s among the best ways to check out of work and check back into your life, at least for a little while. Here are a few tips for how to enjoy a staycation that’s both fulfilling and relaxing. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

No. 1: Stop working. This is probably the hardest one for me to follow, but this time around I shut off all push notification to my phone. This was so key. I still checked in a couple times each day, but I kept it (and myself) under control.

No. 2: Make lists. I had an obscene initial list of all the things I wanted to accomplish during my 11 days, and it only kept growing as my time off progressed. And this list included everything. The most mundane tasks, like walking my dog, to super-ambitious projects and everything in between. I’m not particularly organized in real life, and I’ve learned that if I want to be productive when I don’t have to be productive, it gets too easy to procrastinate. Lists help me avoid the procrastination.

No. 3: Mix in little wins with the big ones. Some of my staycation goals included the dumbest things. Updating beneficiary info with my financial advisor. Framing a picture. Selling my bike on Facebook Marketplace. Repotting a plant that was about to collapse under its own weight. Lame? Yeah. Totally lame. But do you know how good it feels when you literally have nothing left on your personal to-do list? Well, I do.

No. 4: Accomplish big things you can appreciate long after the staycation ends. Here’s where I am a master. I completely cleaned out and reorganized my garage. I ripped apart my basement, reconfigured my storage and cleaned it from top to bottom. I cleaned out every closet in my house. I gathered six lawn bags (not standard trash bags!) full of clothes I never wear, along with four SUVs filled with household items I didn’t want or need, and donated all of it to The Arc in Richfield. I also filled two large garbage bins with trash during my time off. I bought furniture for my bedroom, investigated flooring options for the upstairs of my home (decided against it), bought counter stools for my kitchen, new bedding and a brand new iMac. So while I didn’t drop a lot of cash on a week in Cancun, I decluttered the hell out of my home and put some $$ back into the American economy!

A garage so clean you could eat off the floor!

No. 5: Suspend productivity for some fun. I hit the gym three of my days off and took my dog, Ollie, for walks around Lake Nokomis and Lake Harriet almost every day. Day nine was wholly dedicated to 36 holes of golf. I didn’t get a single thing done that day… just spent some time with the boys golfing two miserable rounds (I suck) in gorgeous October-in-Minnesota weather.

No. 6: Make some time for pure relaxation. I also suck in this department. I have this deep-down desire to sit on my couch and catch up on all the Netflix and Amazon Prime shows everybody talks about. Know how much I accomplished in 11 days? I watched two shows. Not two series… two episodes. One episode of “The Americans” and one of “House of Cards.” Sad!

No. 7: Try not to staycation for only a week. Add a Thursday/Friday or a Monday/Tuesday to the front or back of your time off. It makes it feel so much longer and so much better.

On the Monday I went back to work, I woke up very at peace. I quickly returned to my workday routines, but just knowing my personal to-do list was virtually nonexistent brought the kind of satisfaction that’s hard to replicate.

So while a staycation may not seem like a barrel of laughs, believe me when I say it’s worth it in every possible way.