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Tim Ferriss on Why You Should Use Your Vacation Days

The Tim Ferriss Show podcast host and author of The 4-Hour Workweek shares useful bits of wisdom.

Tim Ferriss

Hometown East Hampton, New York

Home Base Austin, Texas

Claim to Fame Investor in companies like Uber and Shopify; author of five bestselling books, including The 4-Hour Workweek

Current Project Hosting his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, which is available now in the audio section of your inflight entertainment system

Favourite souvenir “A wooden sign that reads ‘SIMPLIFY.’ I found it in a diner in Truckee, California, years ago.”

What do you look for before you invest in a company?
First, products or services that I – investor or not – would use often, ideally daily. Second, smart founders who I’d want to have a beer with, even if we didn’t discuss business. And finally, deal structures, valuations, and cap tables that make sense.

You’ve spoken to everyone from Oscar winners to astrophysicists: what have they taught you?
It’s been a great opportunity to spot patterns from world-class performers in different fields. I discover all sorts of fascinating things, like scientists using Tetris before bed to address insomnia (visual overwriting) and war veterans doubling or tripling the effectiveness of psychotherapy for PTSD using MDMA in clinical trials.

Is there one interview that’s stuck with you?
When I spoke with Arnold Schwarzenegger for my podcast, I brought up a photo of him at age 18, just before he won Junior Mr. Europe. I asked where he got his confidence, and he replied: “It came from my vision… If you have a very clear vision of where you want to go, then the rest of it is much easier. I wasn’t there to compete. I was there to win.”

Studies show that many North Americans don’t take all of their vacation days. How is this affecting us?
I think it wears us thin as individuals and as a society. It’s helpful to think of time off as “recovery.” So you can do this one of two ways: You can plan it intelligently and protect it religiously, or have recovery forced upon you when your immune system, body, emotional stability or relationships fail you. For decades I subconsciously chose the second option; trust me that number one is far superior.

What’s your take on the workation travel trend?
I think it can work beautifully, if you set up the right boundaries. I’ve written most of my books on workations, I suppose. I wrote The 4-Hour Workweek in Argentina, The 4-Hour Body in Nicaragua and most of Tools of Titans in Paris. That said, the concept of “work-life balance” can get us in trouble in many situations, including during extended travel, when we can end up depleted instead of recharged. Aim to be productive instead of busy, and recognize that life is full of relationships and activities that need to be protected from one another.

Where have you been lately that’s invigorated you?
I just returned from Japan, one of my favourite places on Earth. My family and I travelled all over the country, including the Kumano Kodō pilgrimage. I lived in Tokyo as an exchange student in high school, and it strikes me now as it did then: sophisticated, safe, funny, hyperadvanced and absolutely strange. One of my recommendations, especially if you don’t speak Japanese, is to wander for an hour or two in a confusing but awesome place like the Tsukiji Outer Market, then figure out how to get back to your hotel or Airbnb without Uber or Google Maps.