I am sure there are times when you get to a point where your enthusiasm is lower, your energy is sub-optimal, and focus and concentration require greater and greater effort to stay at normal levels. This is the point at which you know that you need to take a break, take time to relax and most importantly, have time to recover.
Being ‘on’ all of the time is just not good for you, a fact shown by researchers who studied stress and its effect on both physical and mental function of executives who took breaks and those that didn’t.
On top of that, it just doesn’t make sense to try and keep going. If your enthusiasm, energy, concentration and focus are suffering, then your capacity for creativity and productivity are also going to suffer.
Effort followed by rest and recovery is a process which is accepted as the most effective form of training for top athletes in many sports. They have evidence that training and game performance must be interspersed with regular, scheduled rest periods. It reduces injury, builds fitness, hones performance levels, both mentally and physically, and leads to higher ‘win’ potential.
Similarly, taking breaks is a vital strategy in tackling tasks during the working day, as is revitalising yourself at the weekend in preparation for a Monday morning. As is taking time off for a holiday or vacation each year.
The trouble is, statistics are showing that people are working longer and taking less and less time off. This is occurring amongst business owners who claim that they cannot take time off lest their businesses fall apart, or executives who believe that they are showing signs of weakness and lack of commitment by not working late, not working at weekends or taking annual leave. The ‘fear laden’ stories that they are telling themselves, and believing, are sending them to an early grave as well as undermining their very effectiveness in work.
It’s a sad fact that it is not until many people suffer a serious illness that they realise the futility of how they have spent their time. Very few, when reflecting on their lives at the end, ever wish that they spent more time working. In contrast, many people have regrets including the billionaire owner of Walmart, Sam Walton, who on his deathbed said, ‘I’ve blown it’, meaning that he had spent so much time on his work that he had neglected his family.
So, it is time to redress the balance of work with life, efficiency, creativity and health. If you recognise yourself in any of the scenarios above, it will be of huge value to you and your work if you introduce more time for rest and recovery into your daily, weekly and annual schedules. Introducing it as a positive strategy for creativity and effectiveness will bring about both short and long-lasting benefits.
Get started now. There is no reason to put it off. The job and the business will be there when you get back.
Customers and employers are reasonable, they understand that people need to take a break. There is no excuse – you owe it to yourself.