No vacationing please, we’re British

“What are you doing for the summer” several colleagues ask me throughout the month of June.

“I’m working” I reply “what are you up to?”

“I’m heading to the summer house for 3 weeks” comes the most common reply. Along with that kind of pity expression you get at times. You know the one, like when passengers see you running up to a train door as it closes, right before leaving the station without you.

It’s not uncommon for Danes to have a family home 2 or 3 hours outside of Copenhagen, where family members meet during the summer for extended vacation.

Yes, I’m British

Being British means I’ve grown up in a culture where a 3 to 6 week summer holiday isn’t dissimilar to handing in notice and leaving a workplace forever. If absent for 3 or more weeks in the UK, you’d return and be told the business survived so long without you, you were no longer needed.

In Denmark that’s a paradigm that doesn’t seem to exist and it’s great. It’s a country where 3 weeks is practically the bare minimum, with many taking 4 or even 6 weeks over the summer due to school holidays.

Closed for the summer

Recently my wife and I took the children for a haircut, and the sign on the hairdressers said they were closed for the summer.

We went to a popular French restaurant a few days ago, one that’s opposite a lake in the picturesque countryside not far from where we live. A note on the door said they were gone for the summer.

I’m starting to forget what some of my Danish colleagues look like, as they’ve been gone for the summer too.

Ingredients for happiness

Perhaps this is one of the reasons Danes are so happy? Not only do they have a national holiday for what seems like every week over Easter / Spring time. They also spend a large portion of July and August relaxing away from home and work. It seems like a very healthy framework to me.

Though, I’m wondering if I should panic about next year? What if we don’t secure a family summer house by the beach for a vacation? Or jet off to the USA to hop a few cities? We could end up breaking some kind of unwritten Danish requirement and receive a heavy fine.. I need to do more research.

One question I haven’t had answered yet, is how do Danish people remember their work passwords after the summer break? After just a 2 week vacation, I get back and my first task is calling IT for a password reset..

“A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.” – Robert Orben

Becoming unoccupied

How do you view vacation time? Is it fixed by the culture you’re in or defined by your mindset and how you view life?

For me a vacation is linked to the origin of the word. The Oxford English dictionary states..

Vacation – late Middle English from Old French, or from Latin vacatio(n-), from vacare ‘be unoccupied’

So there’s no reason why life can’t include a mini vacation each week. That is, being unoccupied on a regular basis.

A staycation is a vacation

Right now when I’m home, I feel like I’m on a vacation. The Danish work ethic aligns to work life separation rather than work life balance*. That’s where my mindset is too i.e. when I’m working, I’m really working, no distractions. When I’m off work, I’m off work, no blending.

“Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted.” – John Lennon

Merging location with a vacation mindset allows for being truly unoccupied. As an example, over the weekend my family and I went to a beach just a 20 minute bike ride away. We cycled through a deer park and had a picnic and walked through the forest with our dog.

I love Mondays

By the time I returned to work on Monday I was refreshed, happy and productive. I can see this in many of my colleagues too. They just happen to add a huge break in the middle of the year on top of their vacation mindset. It’s like the icing on the cake of happiness. Perhaps we should all try and do that, no matter what country we’re in?

I hope you enjoyed episode 1 of Notes from a Small Country? Please give me feedback directly or in the comments. Which part was your favourite? What do you want to see more or less of? Other suggestions? Let me know!

See you next week for the Episode 2.

Don’t miss a thing and subscribe using your email below, that way you’ll get a notification each week when I publish my latest adventure.

*I wrote about how I achieved work life separation in a previous job here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/worklife-separation-balance-marcus-purvis/

Marcus Purvis leads software engineering teams at Unity Technologies, the realtime development platform of choice for video games, movies and more. He’s also learning to write inspiring content on LinkedInMedium and here at marcuspurvis.com

Originally published as part of LinkedIn newsletters here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/vacationing-please-were-british-marcus-purvis/

Episode 0 – Notes from a Small Country

Denmark, a country with 5.7 million people, all famously known as being some of the happiest humans on the planet. But is this happiness true? How are they so happy? Why are they so happy? Does being so happy get tiring? And can a Brit survive an extreme culture of happiness everyday? Especially as happiness clearly gets in the way of focusing on politeness, being apologetic and saying everything is fine even when it’s terrible.

These and more are just some of the questions I’ll be answering in my weekly news’letters’ from Denmark. Follow me on this humorous journey where my wife, kids and I have relocated from a leafy Suburb in the UK to the outskirts of Copenhagen. I’m now living and working like a Dane (i.e. giving all my money away in the name of tax and still smiling).

Brexit? What’s that?

Thankfully the craziness that’s Brexit didn’t happen before we relocated, it would have made things a lot harder without that EU agreement. Still..freedom of movement? What’s that? Between the UK and Denmark you still need border control and a passport. Not so between EU countries that actually like each other. You know the type of like, that like you feel when a work colleague says ‘hi how was your evening?’ and then genuinely wants to hear about your screaming kids who refuse to go to bed and the washing machine that broke, spilling water all over your nice new wooden floor.

Well, to the UK Denmark is the type of colleague who says ‘Hi how was your evening?’ while they escape for the elevator and put their phone to their ear pretending to answer a call (yeah we’ve all done it, don’t judge).

The truth is that we couldn’t have felt more welcome by all the people we’ve met, it’s just the systems in place are not there to be welcoming. Outside of feeling like the Danish computer was saying no, we saw success in the end as we had a relocation agent help us, which I’m more grateful for than I realised at the time. She did much of the heavy lifting and I now know people who’ve done it themselves, where it sounds more painful than working out how to get that Ryanair flight Google says was £50, when in actual fact you want to fly with something other than just the clothes you’re wearing.

One year later..

So here we are, a year in. I’ve learned 2 Danish words in that time (quite a feat for me given the language is spoken nothing like it’s written), and my kids are blossoming like I could never have imagined (Denmark is terrific for kids!)

I work in a place where lunch is made by chef’s onsite and unlimited snacks, wine and beer are available 24 hours a day. Not uncommon for a Danish tech company.. Also everyone speaks English which is super awesome, though it’s making me lazy on the language front (hence my 2 word accomplishment).

We’re lucky enough to live in a house next to a forest, we’ve gone car free and there are numerous beaches, rivers and lakes less than 30 minutes bicycle ride from our house. Oh, and those rides are all in bicycle lanes or through woodland, so no cars or trucks bumping us off the road and revving up while they overtake on a bend into oncoming traffic.

All in the change has been good, even when it’s confusing where some days it feels like I’m living in 1986 again..did you know people actually buy their groceries in person and Amazon doesn’t exist? Yeah hard to believe they’re happy right?

What next?

Each week I’ll focus on work, life and other stories from Denmark. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll (hopefully) learn and you’ll cringe in the nicest way possible, I’m hoping to do all 4 with you also.

See you next week for the Episode 1.

Don’t miss a thing and subscribe using your email below, that way you’ll get a notification each week when I publish my latest adventure.

Marcus Purvis leads software engineering teams at Unity Technologies, the realtime development platform of choice for video games, movies and more. He’s also learning to write inspiring content on LinkedInMedium and here at marcuspurvis.com

Originally published as part of LinkedIn newsletters here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/notes-from-small-country-marcus-purvis/

5 Share Friday 25 July 2019

Technical difficulties resulted in no 5 share last Friday, but fear not, it’s here on Monday!

Quote I’ve been pondering “You can not do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Who to follow on LinkedInThis list of 50 people to follow has someone to learn from whatever your industry. Need productivity tips? Job search advice? Marketing or HR thoughts? There is someone on LinkedIn who posts great content on all those topics and more.

Tea I’m drinkingYerba Mate tea has entered my life again. I haven’t found a source for this tea in Denmark, so my wife’s parents brought some on a visit. It has the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate, all in one hot drink.

Incredibly, the Pasteur Institute and the Paris Scientific Society decided way back as 1964 that “..it’s difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to yerba mate in nutritional value”

If you’re not drinking Yerba Mate tea I recommend you give it a go, it’s also delicious!

Favourite appAccu weather. My previous favourite Dark Sky doesn’t have radar coverage in Denmark, so I’ve been looking for a new app that gives me minute by minute updates, notifications and a 15 day forecast. Check it out, it’s the most accurate weather app I’ve used so far. There is a free ad supported version as well as an ad free paid version.

Projection of population growth – I’ve been reading about how globally we are growing by 83 million people per year, yet many populations are actually declining, with fertility rates looking on the decrease too. Should we be worried? I’m not sure..though the data is something I’d expect the media to be discussing more. Take a look here, it’s interesting and thought provoking.

——————————————————–

I hope you have a fantastic weekend doing the things you enjoy with the people you love.

Missed last weeks 5 Share? Find it here.

If you like this 5 share, please share with others. You can also get notified by email every Friday, simply sign up using the sign up box on this page.

For other blog posts on work and life go here: https://www.marcuspurvis.com/category/posts/

 

5 Share Friday 19 July 2019

Quote I’ve been pondering “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”Will Rogers

LinkedIn Hashtags – Hashtags # on LinkedIn aren’t really like other social platforms. It can be confusing on how best to use them, what’s trending and whether to even bother. Well, thankfully Andy Foote of Linkedinsights.com has not just created a list of the top 100, he’s even sharing a tool you can use to see the top 170 trending #’s. This can give you even more help on deciding which ones to use. If you’re considering using highly popular hashtags, don’t assume it’ll get you more views however. I’ve been doing my own mini experiments. My conclusion so far that #’s with millions of followers are not generating more views. Niche ones directly related to content, with less followers are. One thing to note if you’re the type who’s # tag happy, 3 hashtags on LinkedIn is the magic number.

Browser extensions you need – I’ve moved from Firefox as my main browser to Google Chrome (mainly for translate reasons). With this I’m discovering some great extensions (some of which are on Firefox too).  Hootsuite has shared a list of the best 15 chrome extensions for social media marketers and it’s a list not just useful for social media marketers. Take a look, I particularly love No. 5, as working with people across timezones is now made easier with Figure It Out.

How Amazon Prime day gets you to buy – In How Amazon Prime Day uses your psychology to get you to buy  Yahoo gives an insightful perspective (backed up by research) on how Amazon rules the world with its Prime day offerings. I’m mixed on Prime day, I like that it’s there for those who can’t afford luxury items without it, though I’m not a fan of how manipulative the promotions can be on our brains. Interestingly I didn’t even know it was Prime day until my brother sent me a message about the good deals he was getting. I guess not digesting news and rarely using Amazon helps me not succumb.

Generalise, don’t specialise – I’ve been interested in this topic for a while now. I find as I’m maturing, being a specialist in something (e.g. my career choice) is working out because of my thirst for being a generalist. This article by The Guardian is a great read about why focusing too narrowly is bad for us. This sentence is particularly interesting “..I discovered research showing that highly credentialed experts can become so narrow-minded that they actually get worse with experience, even while becoming more confident (a dangerous combination)..”

——————————————————–

I hope you have a fantastic weekend doing the things you enjoy with the people you love.

Missed last weeks 5 Share? Find it here.

If you like this 5 share, please share with others. You can also get notified by email every Friday, simply sign up using the sign up box on this page.

For other blog posts on work and life go here: https://www.marcuspurvis.com/category/posts/