I just finished 18 days away from home – 7 days at a remote resort near Mt Baker, WA with no cell phone service, 5 days with my younger son’s family waiting for the latest grandson who arrived after we left, and four days in Portland, OR for the annual woodturning symposium.  It was restful and exhaustive, quiet and noisy, solitary and crowded, boring and exciting – a wonderful mix that I needed to experience.  In short, it was a wonderful vacation – long enough to recalibrate and long enough to appreciate being home again.

It was a victory for my wife – she’s being trying for years to get me to take vacations and RELAX.  As she put it, I go and go until I start hurting, then I grit my teeth and keep going.  Definitely not a routine that leads to as pleasant life, but I do get a lot done.

But I realized that having time to slow down and ponder what I’m doing is valuable.  It’s so easy to create to-do lists of things you have to do – what other people expect you to do or what you know you can do better/faster than anyone else.

But the day-to-day hustle prevents you from evaluating the must do’s from the should do’s – what Stephen Covery called the “Sharpening the Saw” things that allow you to work smore effectively, not just more efficiently.  After all, doing the unimportant things more efficiently doesn’t help you achieve your goals – it’s doing the right things in the right ways.

That’s why I find the vacation a wonderful time – it gives me the time to ponder what I’m doing, what I should be doing, how I should be doing things, and even time to just chill and listen to the brook as it runs by.

It’s in the stillness that we find our true values and can listen to our heart – something we all should do.

A physicist by trade, author by choice, a born teacher, a retired veteran, and an adamant problem solver, Frank has helped the White House, federal agencies, military offices, historical museums, manufacturers, and over 250 technology startups get stuff done, communicate effectively, and find practical solutions that work for them. In his spare time, he makes sawdust and watches Godzilla movies.