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Work's a Beach: Five Tips for Maximizing Productivity on Vacation

Work's a Beach: Five Tips for Maximizing Productivity on Vacation

Photograph by Philip and Karen Smith/Getty Images

(Corrects author's name.)

New research by the marketing firm Pertino reveals that 64 percent of men and 57 percent of women work on vacation. As the Fourth of the July is upon us, David Allen, author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, shares how to do it right.

Prioritize beforehand
“Create a temporary action list of things you absolutely need to do and be sure to put off the things that can wait until you get back. This is important: remember that as mosquitoes can ruin safaris, the dumb stuff can ruin your vacation. So don’t add any guilt.”

Pack an 8-foot extension cord
“You’ll need it to plug all your stuff in, and you don’t want to be crawling all over the floor looking for extra plugs that don’t exist. It needs to be long because the hotel room power outlet is usually on the other side of the room from the desk. Also, bring a UBS stick for printing anything important at the front desk.”

Prepare your significant other
“Most of the stress from traveling actually comes from the people you’re traveling with—so make sure to have an agreement with your companion so they don’t get too irritated with your working. Carve off time to work while they shop, or go down to the lobby with a wireless connection and get a glass of wine and crank through stuff while they’re getting ready.”

Take advantage of unexpected down time
“People forget how much waiting you have to do on vacation. A great productivity tip is to be ready for those weird little windows of time like a plane delay or if you’re waiting in line to take the next fabulous Disney ride, which takes 45 minutes. And carry a pen and paper to take care of fresh perspectives and ideas, which can arrive when you’re on the beach.”

Ease back in slowly
“Post-vacation is where people get eaten alive. For every day you unplug and you’re not staying current with processing things, you need to give yourself one hour of time to get up to speed when you come back. In other words, a seven-day trip requires seven hours just to get back to regular cruise control. So don’t schedule wall-to-wall meetings for the first day [you're] back.”

Mayo is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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