Les vacances are well and truly in swing here in France. The Paris streets are quiet, many restaurants have closed up for the month of August to give their workers the much needed feet-up. Even my local market has reduced its pitches by at least a third, as les marchands hit the beach or the mountains. You know it's vacation time at the market, not just because of the reduced size; today I got handed a bag to serve myself the summer fruits. That would never happen any other time of the year! Payment methods are reduced at the market, too - cash only during les vacances, no carte bleue.
The lift to my apartment is always on the ground floor when I return - just where I left it. No-one has come or gone; and in the sleepy, hot streets sometimes you can come across a lonely organ-grinder, accordionist or trumpet band trying valiantly to drum up some pièces.
It's a beautiful time of year.
The French know a thing or two about taking time off. We Anglo-saxons playfully tease the country about their 'down-tools' approach to weekday lunch, and their wholesale shutdown during summer (Goodness - don't let the cat pee on the rug during summer. You won't be able to get it professionally cleaned until September!) The fact is, even with all this time off, OECD data (and other research units) put France's productivity per hour in the region of 20 points more than the UK. (There are points that question this data such as France's statutory contractual hours do not reflect actual work hours, and higher unemployment means arguably the least productive are not captured thereby skewing the data - but stay with me on this).
The down-time and joie de vivre for which hordes flock to France to witness and experience is a necessity for the spirit. To live as though vacations are for wusses is a short trip to the grave. As an entrepreneur working at home, it is particularly dangerous. Afterall, the home office is right there waiting for you, there's always plenty to do; it doesn't take much to sneak in a bit of work every day. Soon though, that everyday sneaky time becomes 7 days a week.
And that ain't good.
Trust me. I know. I had a bit of a meltdown this week as I "work, work, work, work, worked" to build the business. I began to lose perspective by the end of the week, dragging myself out of bed each morning. My 'mind-altering-in-a-good-way' morning rituals went by the wayside, as did my exercise. It all affected the quality of my work, my desire to work, and crucially my mindset and personal relationships (Sorry H x).
So - let me be your cautionary tale.
Take a break. Put your feet up. Switch off.
You'll be so much more inspired and productive.
It will save your mental health, your relationships, your business - and quite possibly your life.
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