Your Vacation and The Walking Dead Effect

Why is it that the longer I am away from work, the lower my IQ seems to get? I call this the Post Vacation Cognitive Lag (PVCL). There should be a diagnosis for it and employers should be educated about the financial impacts resulting from PVCL. We should get a couple of Post-Vacation Leave days to ready ourselves for the pace again.

You know what it is like when you return from vacation. It is almost as if you have to re-learn parts of your job. Brain cells seem like they have been sipping on Maple Syrup mixed with a little Bailies. Maybe that’s because we did a little too much of that while on vacation? Hmm…

It takes a few days to re-awaken the brain to work again. For me, it is like this after some weekends too. This is my Walking Dead Effect: The more Walking Dead I watch and the more junk food that I eat, the slower my brain is on Monday. I need a day to recover from the weekend. I guess that is what Retirement is for.

Interestingly, the longer I am on vacation the more creative I become. The sketchbook comes out and I get an idea for something I could write. I read more fiction and I relax. I sleep better and I laugh more. I play a lot more with my kids. I like myself more when I am on vacation.

There is a phenomena called The Recency Effect or the Recency Bias. The Recency Effect means that because our recent experience is so fresh in our minds that we remember it easily and we assume it will continue this way into the future. In other words, we like to live in denial. Some people have another word for the Recency Effect, it’s called Politics.

“The longer I am on vacation the more creative I become.”

It seems to take a week to mentally relax when we go on vacation because our brains are still thinking about work. And it takes a week to upload our work brains again because our brains are still on vacation. We remember what we have recently experienced. Call it what you like: The Recency Effect, Denial, or Politics.

I think that Costco has studied this phenomena. You walk in, you are greeted by someone that looks like a ticket agent, you give them your card, they give you a discount flyer, everything is shiny, people are talking, there is free food and the prices seem so cheap. I walk in for one thing and then I spend $200.00. I forget my list because Costco lulls my brain into a vacation from rational thought.

Maybe we should just live at the beach. Or maybe at Costo? Sad, but that would not last too long. Security would escort us out.

Fortunately, the Recency Effect doesn’t require a plane ticket or a beach, a membership or being a Retail-Stalker. We use this effect by making it part of our routine. Some ways to make the Recency Effect work for you is by taking a few minutes to remember what you are thankful for, spending time with friends that you enjoy, laughing at a comedian, helping someone, or doing something that makes you feel alive. If you want some more specific ideas, I have written about this in a post on Listening for the Rest of the Story.

Maybe the real value of a vacation is to remind you and I of what is most valuable? Why wait 50 weeks to live?

How do you practice a little vacation every day?

Keep it real


If you like this, you will definitely want to read my previous post on Why Do Computers Slow Down as They Age?

In fact, if you like what you read here, tell me. Then share it with someone.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s