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Somewhere in our heads, we all have a fantasy of how the bank holiday will pan out. Our three-day break will unfold in a breezy burst of sunshine; filled with barbecues and country strolls, village fetes and long lazy evenings laughing with friends and sipping prosecco on balmy terraces. We’ll emerge rested and rejuvenated, plunging back into the working week with renewed vigour and boosted productivity.
That’s the theory. Unfortunately, most bank holidays don’t work like that. That long weekend sneaks up on you out of nowhere, catches you unprepared, and offers you nothing but a lukewarm cocktail of drizzle, motorway queues, and abortive DIY projects. It passes in a flash, and then dumps you, dazzled, into Tuesday, struggling to catch up with a five-day to-do list that now has to be conquered in four.
Not to sound ungrateful, but a bank holiday can really mess up your schedule (especially this second one in May – what workshy sadist came up with that idea?) So, how do you deal with those post-bank holiday blues? We have four tips to help take the edge off once you’re back in the swivel chair…
1. Remember Parkinson’s Law
One of the most important insights into time management in almost every working sector came from the pen of naval historian Cyril Northcote Parkinson in 1955, and remains true today: ‘Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.’ The corollary, of course, is that work can also contract to fit the time you give it. If you’ve got five days to do everything, you’ll take five days. If you’ve got four, you’ll do it in four. So don’t fret about that lost Monday eating into your work time or waste hours panicking about your seemingly insurmountable task list; just be confident, plough on, and witness the miracle of how much you actually get done when you’ve less time to do it in.
In fact, why not take it further? After all, if you can get by on a four-day week, you can probably manage three, right? So extend your bank holiday-break a day or two and watch your productivity rocket…
2. Relax every day
The fact that bank holidays exist at all has helped cement one of the most stress-inducing illusions of modern life – that there are days for work and days for relaxation, and that there is a clear division between the two. There aren’t and there isn’t; there are just days, and each one is what we make of it. Too often, too many of us feel guilty if we enjoy ourselves on a work day, or if we work at the weekend. It’s amazing how refreshing it can be if you re-frame your perspective, and make time each day to do something that enriches you as a person rather than as an economic functionary. It might be a stroll around your nearest green space, an impromptu barbecue dinner, an indulgently long bath – anything that reminds you that, no matter how busy you feel you are, every day holds opportunities to wind down and chill out – regardless of whether it’s an official bank holiday or not.
3. Make a change
A few days away from the grindstone often gives you a little more time to reflect on your life, and the things you could be doing differently. If you’ve come back to reality feeling that you should change something, embark on a new project or make time to do something different with your days, then carry that into the week ahead. And the week after that. New Year’s resolutions are notoriously short-lived, but those made at other times of the year tend to have more sticking power. Whether it’s learning a language, writing a novel, taking up canoeing, not yelling at the kids so much, or just remembering to eat breakfast, the post-holiday period is an ideal time to make a permanent gear shift and a lasting difference.
4. Plan your next getaway
There’s no law that says your long weekends and trips away have to take place on bank holidays, you know. It’s easy to forget that you can go away any time you like – and not have to deal with satanic traffic conditions or booked-up hotels either. The hotels of Farncombe Estate are open year-round, so if you happen to fancy a spa weekend at Dormy House, some Cotswolds frolics at The Fish or a taste of the high life at Foxhill Manor on a random Tuesday in June, there’s nothing stopping you… (And if you’re lucky enough to be in a position where you can be spontaneous and book a last-minute midweek getaway, chances you can bag yourself a bargain break, too.)
So, even though we now have to wait three months before the August bank holiday rolls around, it’s really no biggie.