I know I am extremely fortunate to be married to a South African, regular visits to Cape Town can be orchestrated under the guise of spending time with the family. As I sit feeling lethargic in the sunshine I realise I am having trouble being productive. Now at this time my mother would tell me to stop thinking and try to switch off and enjoy my holiday. Believe me I am enjoying my holiday but I also need to write while I’m away, with a couple of chapters still to finish of my book and pressure to finish, three weeks of holiday seems like the perfect opportunity to get some writing done. I am also not doing much exercise nor doing my yoga and meditation practise daily. Now you may be of the same opinion as my mother and think a holiday is a time for switching off and a time for doing nothing! The fact is, I do agree whole heartedly that a holiday is a time for regeneration and a time to focus on the present, but there are also some things that will enhance the time spent and make the holiday a success for me. Remember we all have our own gauges and measures of success and what classifies as a great holiday for me will be different for someone else.
I need exercise to be at my best, to feel good about myself, to have energy, to feel stress free and also to be able to digest all the holiday food I am consuming. My morning Yoga and meditation sessions are my grounding for the day, I prepare my body and then my mind for what ever comes my way, it also helps my creativity and allows me to express myself freely when it comes to writing. So if I know that all of these things are wonderful and make me feel better, stronger and happier why am I not doing them why do I wake late every morning feel groggy and stiff and not get an opportunity to write or do what I need to do?
1. I am not getting up early enough.
Lesson number one: Piss before your Bull
There is an African tradition that some tribes believe is the trick to staying in control. The leader of the tribe must wake up first in the morning and urinate before his bull if he wants to remain in control and ahead of everyone else including the animals! Getting up early is one of the best ways to become and stay productive. The majority of highly successful people are early morning risers. When I am at home I get up at 5:30 and cycle for 30 minutes on my exercise bike, do yoga and meditate all before my children wake up. On holiday I don’t need to rise so early but I do need to get up earlier and do the things that I know make me happy.
2. I am distinguishing between work and play.
Lesson number two: Learn from the Apartheid era
Apartheid was a system of enforced racial segregation in South Africa between 1948 until 1993. An Afrikaans word meaning separation, it has become almost synonymous with South Africa. When it comes to productivity separation of work and play can be a big mistake. If you separate your work time from your play time, work priorities can take hold and push out playtime and family time. On the flip side while you are on holiday play time and family time are the priority so that anything else you might like to do is pushed aside. If we schedule correctly and communicate individual priorities then everything can get done. You are a whole person with many needs to be met and everything that needs to get done, be it work or play should be scheduled and treated with same importance.
3. Remember to accept and embrace African Time
Lesson number three: Embrace the beauty of African Time
There is a part of African Culture which to the Western World would be classified as tardiness, lack of structure and efficiency. To the Africans they call it African time, they have a much more relaxed attitude towards time. Stemming from the more traditional way of working, starting with sunrise and doing the tasks that need to be done until sunset, mankind previously had no need for a clock to tell them when they had to start a task and when they must finished. When confronted with long waits in restaurants and long delays in shops and offices one is regularly reminded that here in Africa we work on “African Time”. We know that it is not a concept that will take hold in the Western world as we strive for more and more efficient methods of spending our time but perhaps it is something we should remember the next time we are rushing from one appointment to the next. Embracing African time is an essential part of going on holiday, yes we can schedule and organise what needs to be done but if things don’t turn out exactly as planned, sit back relax and allow African time to run the day.