How Richard Branson and other Leaders Spend Free Time

Published on February 08, 2016

How Richard Branson and other Leaders Spend Free Time

Original author: JOHN RAMPTON
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It's no secret that we all have the right to take holidays from time to time. A study published in The Wall Street Journal proved that long work without rest leads to reduced productivity , poor creativity and can even cause conflicts among colleagues. In addition, such a regimen has a bad effect on the physical health of a person. What about Richard Branson, Marissa Mayer, John Donahaw and other world-famous personalities?

It turned out that excessive stress at work increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and exacerbation of existing health problems.

The WSJ article also draws attention to the fact that, despite the undoubted benefits of leisure, the United States is one of the few developed countries in which employers are not required to provide employees with paid leave.

However, this trend may change. Companies such as Evernote, Netflix, and LinkedIn offer employees paid vacations on a flexible or even arbitrary schedule.

Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems send staff home during the holidays, such as July 4th. At Charles Schwab, Motorola, and Bridgestoneemployees are also given a number of extra days off throughout the year.

Of course, these “compulsory” vacations are partly designed so that workers can regain their strength, but at the same time they are a way to cut costs. And, although in the end it brings undoubted benefit, do the leaders themselves take a vacation?

Like any person, the boss needs to rest from time to time to relieve stress. This is good for inspiration and motivation, and also makes it possible to look at work from a different point of view and increase your effectiveness as a manager. But how long should the vacation last?

In the eighties, leaders usually took six-day vacations in the summer, most often in July or August. However, much has changed at present. There are a number of factors that can affect the duration of a boss’s vacation. These include the size of the organization, the qualifications of top managers, and the problems that the company faces. All this should be taken into account when planning vacation plans.

Even if the manager cannot quit his job for a long time, he should not completely neglect the days of due vacation. For example, you can unwind a bit by simply forgetting for a while about work during a business trip. Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote , told PC Magazine:

"I travel a lot. I’m constantly flying somewhere. Previously, like many businessmen, I tried to work on an airplane and used this time to complete some urgent tasks. Then I stopped. In fact, I forbade myself to work while on the plane. I can read, play video games, watch TV or movies. Now it makes me look forward to the next flight. Soon I have a 14-hour journey to China, and I am very happy about it! I won’t have to do anything for 14 hours! ”

And here is Nancy Schlichting, General Manager of the Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System, another opinion: "Vacation is intended to reward for long work in the organization, therefore, the longer the employee is, the longer he rests." She adds: “I am disturbed by people who say they cannot take a vacation. Why can't they? You begin to think that they do not leave work, as they hide something, while conscientious employees, on the contrary, rejoice at the opportunity to relax. I look at it this way: someone who does a really good job can always afford to take a break. ”

Since there is no definite answer to this question, let's find out what six top-level managers think about this.

Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO


Hastings has publicly stated that he needs six weeks of vacation annually to balance work and personal life. He also said: “This is helpful. The best ideas often come to mind when you are somewhere outside the workplace, climbing a mountain or doing something like that. You see the usual things in a different perspective. ”

Cheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook


Cheryl Sandberg not only holds the post of COO of Facebook, but also writes books. While working on Lean In, she was asked how she manages to balance between writing, working on Facebook and personal life. Sandberg explained that she was doing well everywhere because she always made full use of her vacation.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group


This eccentric billionaire is known for spending long vacations traveling the world or relaxing at home on Necker Island. Branson says:

“Concentrating on entertainment gives more than just relaxation and rejuvenation. When you go on vacation, your routine is interrupted; visiting new places and meeting new people can inspire you to make unexpected decisions. If an entrepreneur or company manager returns from vacation without any new ideas regarding the reorganization of his affairs, consider that the time has come to make certain changes.

To completely disconnect from the outside world, I leave my smartphone at home or in a hotel room for as long as possible - a few days if possible. I take only a notebook and pen with me. Having freed myself from the daily stress of workdays, I can easily find new solutions to old problems and feel a surge of inspiration. ”

Due to the fact that Branson loves to relax so much, he even got into the idea of ​​providing unlimited vacation time to employees.

John Donahaw, eBay CEO


In a 2013 article on LinkedIn, an eBay CEO advocated giving employees a special day to think about every three months. Donahaw himself sometimes likes to close in an empty office, stand in front of a white drawing board (it should be a whiteboard, not a monitor), think about everything that happens outside, as well as about problems that need to be addressed in the near future.

He reflects on the latest news, on matters requiring special attention, on the changes that need to be made, and also reminds himself that it makes no sense to worry about what cannot be controlled.

At the same time, he believes that there is no worthy alternative for a full vacation. For the past 28 years, Donahaw has been spending holidays with his family in a beach house on the Cape Cod Peninsula, where he tries to completely get away from business for two weeks.

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!


As Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer has become one of the busiest executives. In an interview with Fortune, she said that she holds about 70 meetings during the working week, which takes about 10 or 11 hours a day, while she manages to fulfill the usual duties of managing the company. Nevertheless, she is not overwhelmed with business, and copes with everything perfectly. In the same Fortune article, she explains it this way: “To regain my strength, I take a week off once every four months.”

Tony Schwartz, CEO of Energy Project


Schwartz, the founder and CEO of Energy Project, as well as the author of Be Excellent At Anything, is convinced of the need for vacations longer than one week. But that is not all. Schwartz is also a supporter of a complete separation from the outside world. The absence of distractions allows him to focus on reading , tennis lessons and entertainment. This can be called putting your thoughts in order.

To a question posed by a Harvard Business Review reporter, he answered: “By the end of a nine-day vacation, I feel full of strength and new ideas. Thanks to the calm environment, I am able to regain full control over my attention. In doing so, I rediscover the deepest parts of my own consciousness. ”

PS We recommend another useful article on the topic of working on yourself -25 productivity tools (and which ones you should not use) .

The author of the translation is Vyacheslav Davidenko, founder of TESTutor .