The “In-Cation” Challenge

Make the most of your PTO when traveling is… complicated

Photo: Jessica Christian | San Francisco Chronicle | Getty Images

The Rules

Treat this like any other vacation. Turn off Slack/Teams and log out of your company email.

How I Approached It

I like using Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) so I found some goals I wanted to achieve that were reasonable for one week off, assuming I’d be focussed for a 30 hour work week. Then I converted them into OKRs. Here are mine as an example:

Objective: Improve Product Management Skills

Key Result 1: Read one new book on leadership in the tech industry.
Key Result 2: Re-read one book with renewed context.

2011 Martin Eriksson

Objective: Improve Engineering Skills

Key Result 1: Solve 1 Leetcode / Hackerrank question each day.
Key Result 2: Use a technology I rarely use (for me, TypeScript & Deno).
Key Result 3: Complete 3 bookmarked ML tutorials.

Silicon Valley | HBO

Objective: Learn a New, Non-Work Related Skill

Key Result 1: Memorize 2 scales and their arpeggios.
Key Result 2: Learn 10 new chords.
Key Result 3: Learn 1 song.

Bringing it Together

What I learned, over the course of this experiment was this. The power of both newfound and re-contextualized perspectives, gives rise to new and interesting “0 to 1” type ideas that are more easily discovered outside the context of daily work. Applying techniques from unrelated areas such as fitness was pivotal in finding the discipline to hone my otherwise neglected leetcode skills. Finally, learning a skill that is totally outside the normal day-to-day life strengthens lateral thinking, increases metacognition (understanding how you learn) and makes you generally a more interesting person.

Software Engineer | Product Leader