The backbone of financial wealth is built on hard work. Yet, physical, mental, spiritual and financial wealth cannot coexist with uninterrupted labor. Every business owner knows, or should know, the power of a vacation. And if you want optimal health and wealth, you better know, as well.

There is a misunderstanding in society of what a vacation really is. Americans think of it as a two week power getaway. (As an American I admit my culture burns at a higher heat and needs to slow down, at least when we take time off. Much of the world already understands this.) The Continent shuts down for August.

Many countries around the world have extended holiday opportunities for employees. Yet, we idolize the hard working business owner that never takes a day off. 

The employee who never takes a day off is not only less effective, but also the employee most likely to embezzle from your firm. (You can’t take a day off over fear of being discovered.)

Vacation time is a great time to read and relax. Enrich your mind while your body destresses.

We idolize those perceived as working endlessly. Who can forget the dedication to detail of Steve Jobs? Does anyone work harder than Elon Musk? Or Bill Gates in his younger days?

While some can work for longer at higher levels of efficiency and creativity, that is not the default for most people. As much as we idolize the accomplishments of Jobs and Musk, each found time to get away and relax. From Albert Einstein to Bill Gates to Jobs and Musk and every other great accomplishment prodigy ever created by the human race, it was the moments of quiet where the magic happened. 

Elon Musk is famous for saying he hates vacations or even the idea of vacations. Yet, Musk steals away when he can to focus his thoughts and increase creativity. Bill Gates has “think weeks”. Einstein would think quietly and alone. This is how he imagined such wonderful things that help us understand our world better and is the basis of so many of our modern technologies.

 

Long time readers of this blog are quick to point out my disdain for travel. The truth is I don’t mind traveling. I much prefer a quiet retreat, unrushed, so I can focus on ideas and creative endeavors. Still, I know deep inside when it is time to pack my bags and visit folks outside the backyard.

So why does a guy that limits his vacation time write a blog post on vacations? Well, it is personal and I would like to share the story.

There are five distinct types of vacation. Each type can be sliced and diced into smaller and smaller components, but in the end there are really only 5 to choose from. 

Where you are personally will determine the most appropriate vacation for you at this time.

My youngest daughter, Brooke is heading for her fifth surgery since early December. (For people reading this much later, I am writing in mid-April at 4 a.m. the Monday before the surgery.) She heads UW Health in Madison late Wednesday for a very early surgery Thursday morning.

Brooke had a series of strokes the past few years and she had very serious strokes last autumn. What started as two surgeries opening her head turned into six due to complications. This week they are replacing the large piece of skull removed from an infection that set in from two surgeries ago. You can read more of the background here.

It is these personal events that have me taking an unscheduled vacation and where we will begin our discussion of each type of vacation and when each is most appropriate to take.

The best vacations avoid the tourist traps. The out-of-the-way places can satiate the spirit more than any other vacation destination.

The Five Types of Vacation

The Long Weekend Vacation

Needless to say, time off daily is a necessity. A good night of sleep is vital to good health. And since fatigue does not bring out our greatest productivity, time off, rest and a vacation can actually help you get more work done than if you never took a minute of rest.

Tax season is brutal for me. Long hours with few days off take a toll. I often get to the office at 4 a.m. and go all day, and sometimes even work into the evening. 

Outside tax season is a different story. I work the early morning hours from home as often as possible. The office is closed on Friday, for a 3-day weekend. 

Just because the office is closed for a 3-day weekend all summer doesn’t mean I can’t think about work. I still read books that educate, answer emails and talk with clients. There are fewer interruptions and the pace is slower so my mind is settled. Just as time off should be.

 

A subset of The Long Weekend Vacation is The Unplanned Vacation. That is where I am at this week personally.

The Unplanned Vacation usually involves the unexpected. A death, illness or other unplanned event surprises us. 

In my case, we knew of, and planned, Brooke’s surgery. It still falls under the “unplanned” column because we have no choice in the timing and the time off is not voluntary.

I will be in the office Monday through Wednesday, probably with shortened hours. Thursday will begin my weekend this week. The early week in the office will keep my mind distracted and Thursday I will be unable to focus while my family awaits news from the surgical theater so I’ll sit and wait. 

 

The Long Weekend Vacation, planned or not, is a short-term break from the routine. It doesn’t have to be every week, or seasonal, as it is in my business.

The important part to remember is the power of the pause that refreshes. When you can walk away and clear your mind, the best ideas will bubble to the surface. The extra day or so of down time can super charge your effectiveness and efficiency the following week.

Vacation time is an opportunity to discover your history and make new friends.

The Two-Week Vacation

Let’s call this the American style of vacationing. Two weeks crammed full of as much as you can stuff into it as you can. Maybe it is a power job around the house or a hyper-planned vacation. In either case, it is filled with as much as can be packed into it, plus a bit more. 

The week-long, 10-day, and two-week tour package fits nicely into this category. Several years back my parents invited Sue and me to a 10-day tour of Costa Rica. It was very nice, but waaaay too rushed. You really can’t really see an entire country in 10 days! I prefer to bed down deep in a community and really get to know a few people.

The Two-Week Vacation doesn’t have to be rushed. Too many Americans use some hectic version of this type of vacation, in my opinion. 

Two weeks is long enough to start to unwind and relax. If you fill too many spaces it becomes your new job, stress and all, for a few weeks before you are happy to be back to the old grind.

Work should never be a grind! The Two-Week Vacation can offer plenty of relaxation and recharging. It is a real opportunity for undivided family time, reading and reflecting.

Don’t underestimate The Tw0-Week Vacation. Just slow it down a bit from the American Style.

 

The European Vacation

My friends across the pond really know how to take a vacation. The Continent comes to a stop during August (except for those in travel, food and entertainment) as people of all ages take a collective deep breath. 

Correct me if I’m wrong, but in Europe, August, or any vacation time for that matter, is at a much more relaxed pace. While The Long Weekend Vacation and Two-Week Vacation have a lot going for them, a full month at a slower pace does more to revitalize. 

This brings up a good point. Short vacations are important, but a longer, deeper vacations periodically are also a requirement. 

The American Style vacation wasn’t always so rushed in America. My grandparents took extended time in Hawaii and Europe in their younger days. And we were farmers where cows had to be milked every day! If there is a will, there is a way. My frugal grandfather proved you can slow down, enjoy, without breaking the piggy bank. American need to get back to this.

It takes time to enjoy an exotic vacation. Extended vacations allow for discovery of true delights.

The Australian Vacation

I hope I am not crossing a line with something stereotypical. Many years back I made the mistake of identifying a man as Oriental (as he also introduced himself as) in a blog post. The outrage was swift and deafening until I asked what I was supposed to say? “Asian!”

Oh! 

When you live in the backwoods you sometimes don’t understand or know what the rest of the world thinks about phrases used “when I was growing up.”

No offense is intended if this is one of those cases.

 

I was told on more than one occasion that when you travel the world you will meet a lot of Australians. I don’t know if it is true or not, but since I heard it more than once from different people I think there might be something to it.

My understanding is that the fine folks from down under take vacations and travel seriously. As in 6-weeks or longer serious!

What I like about the extended (my term for what I consider really long vacations) time off is that you can really settle in. This allows you to really get to know people on a more personal level. With time, people share more things about themselves and their communities. The slow pace has massive advantages.

My oldest daughter, Heather, enjoyed a full summer in China. She stayed with a host family as she taught their daughter, Dora, English as a second language. It has been years and Heather still talks with her host family and Dora on a regular basis. There is a connection between our families that runs deep. Sometimes our eyes wander to the East as we contemplate friends far away.

 

A subset of the Australian Vacation is the Gap Year Vacation. This extended vacation runs to a year or longer. 

When people in high stress jobs burn out they frequently take one of these Quasi-Retirement Vacations, only to discover they miss the excitement of the battlefield and head back to the mosh pit after extended time off to gather their thoughts.

A Gap Year (or three) is valuable for young people, too. Immersing in a culture or a personal project for a few years brings life-long benefits. Traveling the world, if that is what excites you, gives you multiple perspectives and worldviews. (Might I suggest to my American friends you don’t only hang with Americans. If you bring home with you, some of the benefit is lost.)

Rekindle love or build on a new relationship. A vacation offers plenty of time for you.

Retirement

The ultimate vacation is retirement, where you leave and don’t come back. I know too many people that rush this type of vacation. Unfortunately, it is a one and done. (Unless you made a mistake and it was only a Gap Year/s.)

There is an American flavor to retirement, as well, where you rush to get there as early as possible only to rush to travel the world only to rush to. . . 

You get the point. Slow down, take a break and enjoy. Retirement is overrated. Desires of retirement usually mean you are in the wrong profession or just need one of the vacations listed above. 

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with the long walk (retirement). Just make sure it is what you really want. 

 

Now my mind drifts to personal issues again. The surgeon is opening Brooke’s skull for a fifth time with a guaranteed sixth time in a few months. Of course my thoughts as distracted. 

I will enjoy many three-day weekends this summer. I will read and write and plan and work around my farm and. . . 

I’ll have fun, is what I’m saying.

This weekend will be a 4-banger, four days filled with a lot of sitting, waiting and praying. It is an important vacation, if you can call it that.

 

And you, my kind readers, all vacations are important. Make sure you don’t skimp. It is as important, or more so, than the work we fill our time with.

 

More Wealth Building Resources

Worthy Financial offers a flat 5% on their investment. You can read my review here. 

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

cost segregation study can reduce taxes $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregation studies work and how to get one yourself.

Productivity hack. The right kind of break or vacation or mini-retirement can increase your income and efficiency. #wealthyaccountant #productivity #hack #productivityhack #miniretirement #vacation #sidegig #hustles It happens to all of us. A project gets on our desk and we stall out; a credit card bill needs to be challenged with the bank and we can’t get the energy to get it done; a book we really want to read sits on the night stand waiting for the day you actually crack the cover. Like I said, it happens to all of us.

As an accountant I feel overwhelm often. People don’t bring me the easy ones and the IRS doesn’t care about your schedule. They pay me for things that make mere mortals head’s explode. Generally I’m booked out 6-8 weeks, and any time I say yes to something or set an appointment within 6 weeks it means I subtract it from personal time. Then I stall out!

It isn’t the worst or most difficult tasks that cause my tires to spin. I eventually reach a point where fatigue sets in and if your file is in the wrong place at the wrong time (or I made too many commitments), it ends up on the hellish side of my desk where things don’t get done. I keep putting it off because opening the file creates visions of pain in my skull. When fate (a disgruntled client) pushes me to engage the task it usually is something much less involved than I thought.

Tax season is the worst. As sleep deprivation takes its toll certain files just seem to be too much to handle. I put it off and put it off until weeks have passed and I have some explaining to do to a client. It might not even be my fault. A regular client has a crisis and it sets me back. Something had to give!

Even during the off tax season I get into a bind. Some jobs just stall me out. Do I really want to that now? Of course the answer is “No.” That’s why I’ve been putting it off.

In every case when things start piling up on my desk there a pattern. Before my energy wanes too much I roll up my sleeves and demand I take responsibility. I sit at my desk and get it done! The attitude works for a while until several clients with urgent demands crush my schedule and put me into a deeper bind. The forced labor never lasts for long. Productivity declines until I’m at my desk all day and less and less gets done.

There is a solution, however. When I’ve exhausted all methods to prod me forward I do what I should have done from the beginning: take a break.

Yes, take a break. And I don’t mean 15 minutes either. Once I get that far behind and clients are calling non-stop I step away. At this point I will either burnout completely or make serious errors. Probably both. The only solution is to take a few days off. I’m in no condition to do good work until I recharge.

The Highway to Hell is Littered with People of Good Intentions

IRS letters might be urgent, but unscheduled work when my calendar is booked tight is problematic. Enough unscheduled work takes away from family and then I get grumpy faster than you think. I NEED me time and family time. I work for pleasure. When it stops being pleasurable I need to reevaluate.

Before this blog my schedule was more manageable. Now I get frequent requests. Daily! I’m still adjusting to the ever changing environment. Before Blog (BB) I enjoyed long periods of time off outside tax season. I work harder now than ever because I really, really, really love writing and I have an audience I love communicating with. Still, those months of quiet leisure are necessary. The pause that refreshes prepares me for another marathon run in the spring.

BB I worked well into the evening during tax season. My batteries were that well charged. Now I work until 5 or so at best. Unfortunately weekend work has appeared. (People do that?) Tax season would wear me out, but by June the office was quiet and I had plenty of family and me time. No more.

Adjusting to the new schedule has proven difficult. I always thought I’d handle stress better. I don’t. The constant demands of people wanting a piece of me is something I don’t handle well. It wears me down.

My intentions are good. I know I can help these people as long as I have adequate time to do so. Taking time off when demands are so great is problematic. Then the proverbial wall fast approaches.

The choice has been eliminated. Begrudgingly I step away for several days. I go home and unplug. I read good books, talk with Mrs. Accountant and my girls and walk around the farm. When I return I am magnitudes of order more productive. I needed time away from the computer screen and the multiple day break did the trick. In a week or less I’m further ahead than I would have been if I attempted to plow through. Sure, plenty of angry emails and phone messages await me. I attack them in the proper order. When allowed to recharge I make better choices, get more work done, which leads to happy clients now that I finish their projects.

And I’m not alone.

Titans

Before we continue, I want you to understand this isn’t about me. You see, I know you face the same challenges in your life. An unpleasant task, or at least a perceived one, stalls you out. You procrastinate. In some cases it can cost you big time! It saps the pleasure from life and can even hurt relationships. You need to hear my story to learn the lessons you can apply to your own life.

Your favorite accountant’s story might resonate, but there is an even more visible example: Elon Musk. Musk, you might recall, is the top dog at Tesla, the all-electric car company. He also runs The Boring Company and SpaceX. Solar City is under the Tesla umbrella. Tesla has one of the largest buildings in the world in Nevada producing more batteries than the human race had built throughout all of history. In other words, Musk has his hands full.

For years Musk managed the mine field of tasks. Stress must have been intense often, but Musk seemed to weather well.

Getting more done doesn't mean working harder or longer hours. A vacation or extended break can beat procrastination. Enjoy life more. Enjoy family and friend. Have plenty of me time. #wealthyaccountant #metime #me #procrastination #family #work #freedom #travel #wealthThen the endless years of sleep deprivation and incredible demands started to show the world how human Musk really is. A few months ago he called an analyst on the Tesla earnings call a “bonehead”. The stock quickly tanked. Rumors started to appear over working conditions at Tesla. The high investment costs of an auto company kept Musk busy dealing with Tesla’s financial situation while production issues plagued the company and investors were getting antsy over missed production targets and goals.

Musk kept falling. He called one of the rescuers of the kids trapped in a Thailand cave “pedo guy”. That didn’t go over well. In a brief moment of clarity Musk apologized for his “bonehead” remark on the previous earning call. Then the bottom fell out.

In a momentary lapse of sanity Musk tweeted he was considering taking Tesla private and that financing might actually be secured for such an event. This wasn’t exactly true or at least didn’t seem obvious. This set off a firestorm. Tesla stock first rocketed and then collapsed, losing nearly a quarter of its value. Musk now has even more issues and stress to manage.

I personally believe Musk did many of the foolish things he did due to fatigue. He has proven he can handle stress. It was the lack of sleep that probably contributed to many of his recent woes. I read a report that Arianna Huffington encouraged Musk to take a break and get more sleep. Musk’s response: I don’t have time for that right now.

As much as I love Musk, his drive and creativity, he is racing toward potential disaster. He is stressed to the max and it is clear to me he isn’t at his best game anymore. Even under such stress he is still a genius, for sure. But if he keeps pushing he takes the risk his body can’t cash a check his mind has written. That could cost him his life or worse. The world—and his dreams—will not be realized in the way he wants.

Huffington is right. Elon, you need to recharge. You must take a break or it will kill you. The world can live a week without you, but will suffer greatly if we lose you permanently.

And there is one more thing to discuss. You might need a break to beat procrastination. This in turn will increase your wealth as you will make better decisions and move forward at a steady pace without fighting fatigue. My story you’ve read before. Musk is a giant and not like you or me. Now I want to share is a story of a man in this demographic; a man who has managed multiple projects and suffered the same things I have and found solutions. I talked with this man earlier this week. Now I want to share the story of a man known as J Money.

Growing to Significance

J Money, aka J$, is a unique individual. I’m not talking about all the incredible projects he has undertaken over the years and successfully completed. I’m actually talking about his appearance. He has this, ah, haircut. You see, there is only a strip down the middle with the path of hair set up in spikes. If you meet J you’ll also hear his distinctive voice. And, you’ll instantly know you are in the presence of a man who cares deeply for his family and the people consuming his work.

J is a normal guy. Not an Uberman like Musk or a crazy accountant like yours truly. J has three sons and a wife he loves dearly. J could take a knee and live the sweet life of nihilistic decadence if he wanted, but instead he choose to change the world (something Steve Jobs would have appreciated).

Procrastination can cost you money and sap the joy from life. Beat procrastination, enjoy free time and have more money to show for it. #wealthyaccountant #procrastination #vaction #travel #respite #relax #vacationmoneyJ’s accomplishments and legion. His largest contribution to the financial field is Rockstar Finance (recently sold). Rockstar touched every corner of the financial world. But J does so much more. He still publishes Budgets are Sexy, one of the best blogs to grace our demographic. And here is a list of his massive accomplishments. Take a moment and check that last link. Even if you know J, you should review his incredible successes.

Okay, are you back? Excellent.

Have you seen the number of Plutus Awards he’s won? The Lifetime Achievement award is most impressive. You only get that if you’ve dedicated a minimum of 10 years toward serving the financial needs of a hungry public. And he does it with humor as several Plutus awards attest.

Once again I’m going to ask you to take a short break and follow this link so we can seriously discuss the issues. Here is a list of J’s projects, past and present.

Did you check it out? No, it’s okay. I can wait.

Guys like Elon Musk, J and me, are insatiably curious and driven. This is our greatest strength and greatest weakness. Our curiosity and drive allows us to scale new heights and accomplish incredible things. The same drive pushes us past acceptable limits. Before we know it we’ve crossed a line where we are less productive and making poor decisions. I outlined above my weaknesses and Musk’s are very public. But what about J?

As much good as J has done, he still felt the strain of all the responsibilities. Burnout was once again knocking at the door. Then he got some great news. Mrs. J had some good news for our hero.  Let’s just say it meant J now has three sons. Three young children is a handful even for a guy as talented as J. Rockstar got sold and effort was made to refocus. Workload had to decrease. It was time to live more.

When you really love a task it’s easy to be consumed. As Musk and me, J’s strong drive needed some adjustment.

As I prepared to write this post I remembered something I heard about J. I thought it best if I confirmed my memory by contacting him. He responded almost instantly.

What I remembered was either reading or hearing J came close to burnout a time or two. What he calls hustles I call a Full-time Job Plus. J confirmed burnout was approaching. With his third child on the way he had to make serious changes.

First, he “. . . forced myself to cram it all in during the week no matter what it takes.” Parkinson’s Law tells us work expands to fill the time allotted. J discovered he could organize his day to get it all done. Weekend work was out! And rare has been the evening when he opens the laptop to work a project. (Note to self: channel J.)

Triad of Hustling

Just cutting the available hours for work isn’t enough. There has to be a process of elimination so certain projects and tasks are discarded permanently. J had a Jordan Peterson moment where he sat down and really thought it through. He came up with his Triad of Hustling.

J discovered there were three variables to any project:

1.) How much time did the activity consume?

2.) How much money did it make (or did it make any)?

3.) Was he having fun?

J felt if he could answer yes to at least two of the variables it was an endeavor worth keeping.

I encourage you to read J’s article fleshing out his Triad of Hustling. I think the variables should apply to everything in life. Many things don’t make money. Fine. Then it better be enjoyable and not consuming all available time. For business ventures money plays a larger role. If it doesn’t it better be as entertaining as hell and take all of three point seven seconds!

More Wisdom from J

I asked J to confirm his weekend rule and if he could provide something I could quote. He was generous in doing so.

Elon Musk could learn a thing of three (triad) from J. J informed me he is approaching his one year anniversary of not working a single weekend and he has held true to his goal. I think you’ll agree his work hasn’t suffered either.

Here are a few highlights of the email J and I shared.

J: All you have to do is not open up your laptop haha… well, that and actually DOING YOUR WORK during the work week and cut out all the distractions (italics mine; note to self: paste to computer screen). Amazingly time opens up for it when you commit to it!

He also lists pros and cons. (Yes, there are cons. If you are honest with yourself you will acknowledge the cons, as well as, the pros.)

Here are several of the pros: More quality reading time, better napping (yes, naps are important!), more alert when with his wife and kids, no need to rush to get back to work, much more excited to get back to work Monday fully recharged and feels like he is living more. That is a pretty darn good list to strive for!

These are the cons to address. Monday morning starts with a backlog of material that piled up over the weekend. Emails and comments need attention if you’re a blogger. Another potential issue is if something blows up over the weekend. Since the computer stays off all weekend J will not know about the issue until Monday.

Overall, J said, it is one of his best habits and highly recommends it to everyone.

Then J ended his letter with what I consider most profound statement:

And even if something does explode, it’s not the end of the world… People don’t revolve around us as much as we seem to think!

Yeah, something like that.

How Taking a Break Destroys Procrastination and Increases Wealth

J pointed the way. Elon Musk is showing us how badly things can go when you don’t use moderation. My experiences show how you can stall out and reach epic levels of procrastination when adequate free time is not scheduled in. Call is Keith’s roller coaster.

More hours working a task, even an enjoyable one, doesn’t automatically equate better results. After a point it starts to become, what economists would call, negative utility: more work actually add no additional value and even destroys work you’ve already done!

When you follow J’s lead and open weekends, or whatever time you choose to recharge, you increase your total output compared to not taking any time off at all! Procrastination is born of futility and fatigue. When your head hurts from lack of sleep it is hard to start a difficult task. Putting it off is bad; refusing to take a break and making poor decisions is worse. Worst of all is stalling out and never getting the task completed, the ultimate procrastination penalty.

The pause that refreshes increases quality of life. It also increases financial wealth! Think of it. When you struggle because you never step away you get less done and therefore earn less income. Breaking through procrastination sometimes means taking a break.

Or you can keep pushing and face the health risks of Elon Musk with no quality of life to show for it.

 

More Wealth Building Resources

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email Darren@TradelineSupply.com or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

A cost segregation study can save $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregation studies work and how to get one yourself.

Worthy Financial offers a flat 5% on their investment. You can read my review here.