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Features | Reflections

February Reflections: On Unplugging

I’ve long thought we should have more holidays. Why isn’t there, at least, one holiday every month? If we were to add more holidays, what things would you want us to carve out time for? One of my votes would be for us all to celebrate the National Day of Unplugging, a “24 hour respite from technology.” Read more about the day here.

So on March 1, we’re unplugging. Don’t worry if you’re staying with us that day —  our field teams are at the ready to ensure you get your own time to recharge.

It’s a special day that’s about replacing push notifications with a pull towards the outdoors, setting aside our likes and follows for more time with the people we like the most. I appreciate my cell phone and my “connected” world, but it’s about setting a day to acknowledge that the counterbalance is just as important.

To me, National Day of Unplugging comes at the perfect time. Inevitably, at least in the Northeast, we spend a lot of time indoors in February. More time inside often equates to more time on screens, longer work hours, and less opportunity to meaningfully get away. Here’s hoping this special day serves as a reminder to us all about the upside of unplugging.

Be Well,
Jon

Features | Reflections

January Reflections

There’s nothing like a “New Year, New You” email – or several – to jolt you into 2019. I must have received a hundred emails with that headline.

While there’s a lot to be said about taking time to reevaluate, to renew, and to replenish, it’s hard not to feel drowned in cliches. Especially when these temperatures drop down to freezing, and we all end up spending more time indoors and in our routines than outside getting replenished and re-energized.

January at Getaway

Quiet Place to Reflect

This month, I had the privilege of speaking on a panel about “experiences” in retail. Getaway might not seem like an obvious choice for discussing retail design, but I was happy to participate because it allowed me some beginning-of-the-year reflection to crystallize why I think what we’re doing matters to us, but more importantly, why it matters to you.

Much of the panel conversation was about the officially tired trend of corporate-designed “immersive” experiences. I can wax cynical on the distraction I think these spaces provide, but instead I was grateful for the experience to reflect and to advocate for what I think we’re doing differently.

We’re not here to give people a “Getaway experience” — Getaway exists so that you can unlock your own experiences, and live a little more deeply. It’s you, not us, that are creating the experience.

You can read more about that panel here, or feel free to get in touch if you have any questions. I’d love to hear from you.

Here’s hoping for a little less distractedness, and a more deep experiences in 2019.

Be well,

Jon

Features | Reflections

December Reflections

The end of December always feels like a perfect mixture of reflection and anticipation. On the one hand, we’re looking back at the month and the year that was. What were our successes? What could we have improved?

On the other hand, we’re thinking about the promising year ahead. For us, there are new Outposts coming, the growth of the Getaway team, and new ways to make Getaway all the more special for our first time and repeat guests.

Cabin

To reflect on this month before we bite into the whole year, we announced and opened booking for Getaway Atlanta, our first home in the South. I’m particularly excited about this destination, because our friends in the South are often overlooked in conversations around the excesses of the city and the need for taking time. Our hope is that our Atlanta Outpost can provide our friends in The Big Peach the escape they deserve.

Taking a step back and looking at the year as whole, I’m proud of what Getaway has accomplished. We’ve added and announced new cabins and Outposts, allowing more people to find balance across the country. Our guests continue to amaze me with their dedication to taking time in nature to reset.

Those guests come to Getaway from so many places, near and far. When you book a Getaway, we ask our guests their reason for escaping. We’ve seen everything from people needing a break from their jobs, to a desire to reconnect with a partner, to the stress of transitioning, to most recently, someone eloping in our tiny cabins. Thanks to our guests for allowing us to share in their search for balance.

We put together this infographic to celebrate 2018. It was a year full of engagements, hiking trails, paw prints, s’mores and tranquility. Next year, you can expect more new Outposts, cities, trails, campfires, engagements, and more.

Thanks for being a part of Getaway. As always, if you have any feedback, feel free to get in touch.

Be well,

Jon Staff

Features | Reflections

November Reflections

November always feels like a signal change. It’s when the seasons shift and here in the northeast, it starts to get properly cold. It’s as if fall is telling us the year is almost over — ”wrap up what you need to do before you’re hit with the blistering winter.”

More than that, it’s a month of gratitude. While I think it’s important to reflect and express gratitude throughout the year, it’s helpful to have an explicit holiday that reminds us all to say thanks. This year, there’s a lot to be grateful for.

The Getaway Team got together to celebrate all we’re thankful for. We traveled to our DC Outpost, disconnected from our devices and work, and celebrated with each other. We even had a Team Thanksgiving feast, dividing into teams, each responsible for cooking a different course over the campfire. I continue to be incredibly grateful for the dedicated people in the field and at our headquarters that make Getaway everything that it is. You can watch a snippet of our Team Thanksgiving above.

reflections

I am also grateful for our incredible guests across New York, DC, and Boston, who have embraced the intention of creating more balance for themselves. Whether it’s perusing through the #getawayoften mentions on Instagram or through direct feedback shared with me, our guests provide us with a sense of purpose day in and day out. I’m unsure if words do justice to the amount of gratitude that I – and our team – have for our guests, so we’ll reserve that energy and put it towards continuing to deliver an exceptional Getaway experience.

This month, we announced a brand new Outpost outside of Los Angeles, a project over a year in the making, and our first Outpost on the west coast. We’re excited and grateful to be able to serve our Angeleno friends in need of mindful escapes in 2019.

As always, feel free to get in touch if you have feedback or ideas.

Be well,
Jon, CEO + Founder

Features | Nature | Partnerships

For Every Getaway, One Tree Is Planted

I’m excited to announce Getaway’s new initiative to support global reforestation.

Every new Getaway booking now results in planting one tree somewhere in the world, powered by our friends at the aptly-named non-profit One Tree Planted.

One Tree Planted, planting trees in Oregon.

Why? Aside from the obvious “sustainability is good” answer, my hope in starting Getaway was to create the space and opportunity for people to reconnect with nature. I hope in some small way this helps more people in more places have nature in their lives.

To make that a reality, it’s all of our jobs to do what we can to support nature itself. I hope this is the first of many contributions we can make to our planet.

Be well,

Jon, CEO + Founder

Features | Reflections

Rethinking Boredom

I was recently catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. He seemed bothered by something and when I asked about it, he confessed that he was feeling…bored. Bored with work and his social life, to the point where he felt he needed make a big change to get himself out of his rut. Most of us have felt this way at some point in our lives, and we know how uncomfortable and agitating feelings of boredom can be.

But is that such a bad thing? On the one hand, we’ve all heard the derisive adage “only boring people get bored.” But boredom can motivate us to make changes in our lives, and that’s not such a bad thing.

Turns out, scientists have been researching the nature of boredom for years, and their findings support the idea that being bored isn’t actually all that bad. One such scientist is Dr. Sandi Mann of the University of Lancashire in the UK. She and her team published a study in 2014 that looked at how a bored mind responds to creative stimulus. She took two participant groups and had one carry out the exceedingly boring task of writing out a list of phone numbers by hand. She then had both groups complete a creative task: to come up with as many creative uses for two polystyrene cups as they could. Her team found that the group that started the exercise with a boring activity came up with significantly more innovative uses for the cups than their counterparts.

Once you start daydreaming and allow your mind to wander, you start thinking beyond the conscious and into the subconscious.

“Once you start daydreaming and allow your mind to wander, you start thinking beyond the conscious and into the subconscious,” said Dr. Mann during an interview for Nautilus, a science magazine. That’s because when we let ourselves daydream–a common occurrence when we feel bored– we tap into our own cognitive system and begin processing our own internal thoughts, regardless of their relevance to what is happening outside of our heads. While most forms of cognition are responses to external stimulus, boredom-induced daydreaming is the mind working on itself. It helps us think creatively and develop insight into who we are, because what our minds wander to signals our internal mental state.  

Boredom can also act as a motivator, as it did for my friend. Andreas Elpidorou, an assistant professor in philosophy at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, has written extensively about the good side of boredom. He argues that boredom encourages one to pursue new goals because it signals that a current goal is not attractive or meaningful. In other words, boredom tells us what we don’t want to do so we can move onto something else.

If boredom makes us more creative and can inspire positive changes in our lives, perhaps it is good for us. And if that’s the case, maybe we don’t need to feel so bad about feeling bored from time to time. Rather than something to be avoided, boredom can be embraced as a mental tool for problem solving, or a strategy for boosting our creativity. If we can do that, we might find we’re not so bored after all.  

Need a place to be bored? Book one of our tiny cabins here now.

Features | Reflections

April Reflections

Having just celebrated Earth Day, many of us have been thinking about how much stuff is wasted. And while wasted stuff is a huge problem, I also found myself thinking about how much time is wasted. We scroll endlessly, we swipe, we tap, we watch stuff on Netflix we don’t even like. Most of it doesn’t leave us feeling good about ourselves.

That’s partially because ‘junk time,’ like junk food, squeezes out room for the more important things. If our time diet is filled with junk, we have less room to be creative, to think deeply, to actually connect, in reality, with our friends and family. And we’ll probably forget to make time to call our mothers (friendly reminder: Mother’s Day is coming up on May 13!).

ditch your device
Ditch Your Device. Photo by Michelle Watt.

By no means is all junk time nor everything on the internet a waste. Here are a few bright spots we loved spending time on this past month:

In addition to thinking about junk time, we’ve poured through all of our feedback emails, as usual—144 this month.

Here’s one that really moved us:

“My husband and I came here for some quiet time. Our jobs have been draining us lately and with each passing day, we are finding it increasingly more difficult to go through our 9 to 5 routine. Things are so difficult at work…I personally find myself almost crying every day and I can see the tiredness grow in my husbands’ eyes…you thought of every little detail from the books to the cell phone lockbox to the commitment page. BEYOND PERFECT, if there is such a thing, is what this weekend has been. Thank you for all that you’ve had to do and endure to make Getaway a reality. You will never know how much this place truly means to us now,”

Our jobs have been draining us lately and with each passing day, we are finding it increasingly more difficult to go through our 9 to 5 routine.

We were touched deeply by this note and relate all too well to a lack of work-life balance. Stories like these are why we’re on a mission to create a counterbalance to our lives not only at our tiny cabins, but in our own offices and homes, and hopefully in the everyday lives of our guests. More on this to come.

As we move into May, perhaps try to keep a list of how you spend your time. How much of it is ‘junk time’? How can you make an effort to spend more time on the things that really matter?

Below are a few links to things we’ve been thinking about lately. As always, feel free to get in touch if you have feedback or ideas.

Be well,

Jon, CEO + Founder

 

ITEMS OF NOTE WORTH TAKING THE TIME FOR

John Suhar
Photo by Zak Suhar.

Driven to Distraction — Cozy up in a chair to read this powerful essay by Rebecca Solnit that tackles what it means to live in an uber-connected society. “Even our ability to find our way through a given landscape has been outsourced to devices.”

Work-Life Balance as a Social Media Manager — Managing social media as a career can be a tough challenge for work-life balance. We speak with leaders from companies we admire from Headspace to Virgin to Away.

How Boredom Can Lead To Your Most Brilliant Ideas — Set aside a solid 16 minutes to watch this brilliant talk by Manoush Zomorodi on how being bored can spur your creativity.

 

Features

To Restore Balance, We Must Combat The Great Spillover

It seems like we’re all struggling to achieve “work-life balance.” Our inboxes are invading our evenings and our work is overwhelming our weekends. Only 39% of Americans use all of their vacation time. 6 in 7 children see their parents bringing their work stress home. A third of couples argue over balancing the time needed for work versus quality time together.

We can figure out how to conquer this crisis by exploring its beginnings. The Google Ngram Viewer is a tool that graphs the frequency of words and phrases used in books across time. It is a useful way to track how certain trends have come and gone over time. As you can see in the Ngram for “work-life balance,” the phrase came into use in the mid-1990s, had inflected upwards by the new millennium, and rocketed up through the 2000s. We are not wrong to think that this crisis of balance is specific to our time.

Ngrams get interesting when you layer on other trends. A few years before the rise of the “work-life balance” crisis comes similar trend lines for the rise of information technology: “cell phone” “email” and “internet” all came into use in the early 1990s, had inflected upwards by the end of the ‘90s, and rocketed up in the new millennium. The “work-life balance” crisis appears to be an aftershock of the digital earthquake.

The internet has not only caused the walls between work and life to come crashing down: it has also hurt our ability to work while we are at the office.

Between the late 1990s and the late 2000s, office distractions doubled from six per hour to twelve per hour. Research have shown that the typical office worker is interrupted or forced to switch tasks every three minutes and five seconds — and, worse, that these interruptions take 23 minutes and 15 seconds to recover from. According to a study done at King’s College, London,being constantly distracted by email and text messages at work causes over twice the loss of cognitive function as smoking pot before work.

We could call this phenomenon “The Great Spillover.” Whereas our production (focused work), our coordination (interaction with others about work), and our leisure (not work) used to be relatively contained, they now spill over onto each other. We coordinate and have leisure during production hours (think: having a co-worker pop in to chat or catch yourself watching videos when you should be planning a project). We produce and have leisure during coordination hours (think: precious meeting time spent thinking about questions for the first time or in distracted chit-chat instead of efficiently discussing proposals prepared beforehand). And worst of all, we coordinateand produce during leisure hours (think: emailing during dinner or doing conference calls on vacation).

As we let The Great Spillover happen to us, we think we are squeezing more out of our days: more emails, more fun videos, more updates, more connection, more progress on our projects. But in reality, we are struggling with everything. The Great Spillover makes us bad at production, because we never have sustained, uninterrupted time for deep thought and deep work. It makes us bad at coordination, because we never give people or topics our full attention and start to negatively view co-workers as “the people that interrupt my production and leisure.” And finally, it makes us bad at leisure, because we never have a chance to truly escape and rejuvenate. Forget work-life balance: The Great Spillover is ruining both work and life.

To save work and life in the internet age, we need to combat The Great Spillover by again separating, optimizing and balancing productioncoordination, and leisure.

Most importantly, we need to fortify our leisure — nights, weekends and vacations — against the invasion of work and technology. 1 in 5 Americans say they “never fully relax” on vacation. That’s why we need to make sure we find time for technology-free leisure that truly gets us away from our daily routines. We must do more than just take time off: we must mindfully get away from our daily grind so can we achieve that outside, holistic perspective on our daily lives that deep rest can bring. This not only leads to joy duringour leisure time: it also helps us do better during work hours. Research has shown that people are more motivated to achieve their work goals after a vacation.

Second, we need to fortify our production — hours for deep focus and work — against interruptions by co-workers and other commitments. As famed psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has shown, our “optimal experience” — what he calls flow — only comes when we are uninterrupted and fully immersed in energized focus and full involvement in an activity. The writer Cal Newport calls it “Deep Work,” the distraction-free concentration that “push[es] your cognitive capabilities to their limit,” which he contrasts to the “Shallow Work” of “noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks” that are performed while distracted and “tend not to create much new value in the world.” To achieve states of flow and Deep Work more often, we need to proactively schedule days uninterrupted by meetings and hours uninterrupted by emails or co-workers. In addition to granting vacation days, employers need to grant “production days,” where we are empowered to spend the entire day immersed in deep work to make serious progress on a project.

If we fortify deep leisure and deep production against interruption, our coordination will become healthier. When emails, meetings, and co-worker questions are cordoned off into specific parts of the day, we can give our full attention to them, rather than having them compete with our leisure and production. We cease to associate each other with the negative feelings of being interrupted. We move away from triaging each other’s needs and towards deeply engaging with each other’s needs.

Indeed, by separating production, coordination and leisure, we can save them from each other and achieve the balance needed to thrive in our over-connected age.

Originally published on Thrive Global.