I'VE spent the last week in Sunny Crete, sipping cocktails and dipping my toes in the pool whilst pouring over another book about the importance and the power of REST. As a high-performance coach, it’s my job to help my clients significantly increase how they perform in their role as business Owner/MD/CEO and in turn how their business performs (both financially and in delivering the lifestyle they want) and whilst lots of the tools and strategies we look at apply INSIDE the working arena, the majority of the tools we apply are actually about what happens OUTSIDE of work, the office and the job.
WHILST it might sometimes feel counter-intuitive to take a break when we’ve got a never-ending “to-do” list on our desks, it’s important to realise that the benefits will significantly outweigh the time away from the office.
WHEN we’re talking about breaks of course we perhaps need to specify, are we talking about those simple little 5 and 10 minute breaks throughout the day, or those longer daily gaps of an hour or more, or are we talking about leaving the office for a whole weeks holiday? Well in reality we’re talking about all of them, they all have massive benefits to productivity, creativity and performance and I’d encourage you to try to incorporate each of them into your work-life.
THE easiest by far to incorporate are those quick breaks every hour. Even the busiest of us can spare 5 minutes to walk around, stretch out our muscles, make a fresh cup of tea and give ourselves a mental hiatus to refresh, restore and potentially allow a brief flicker of inspiration to wander into our thoughts. This brief break from the desk may not seem like much but over the course of a day it can have a massive impact on sustaining your energy levels enabling you to still produce great work at 4.30pm where you may usually have been starting to flag.
THE longer daily gaps are usually part of a bigger adjustment in schedule, and come from starting to strategically structure your day into 3 or 4 90-minute “power blocks” throughout the day. 90 minutes is a fantastic length of time to completely immerse yourself in 1 specific task – no distractions, no interruptions, just laser focus to get it done. After about 90minutes concentration will start to wane and the quality of your work will drop-off, so by capping it we force ourselves to work solidly, in a high-performance state to get it done (or a significant chunk if it’s an ongoing project). This “power blocks” are fantastic for really driving forward, but they do require a concentrated burst of energy, and therefore it’s important to take a decent break to rest and recharge after each one before heading in to the next one. These breaks can be anything from 30 minutes to 3-4 hours depending on the schedule that you’ve chosen. For myself, and many clients, there might be 2-3 of these power blocks before lunchtime, and I will then often block out several hours in the afternoon for other activities which are designed to rest, recharge and stimulate my creativity. I’ll then often head back into the office late afternoon for a final power block. Taking a longer break allows my mind to wander, and my subconscious to keep working on the tasks I’ve been tackling in my power blocks, it’s often when I’ll come up with ideas and inspirations which I can then take into my work later that day. It also gives me time to read and study and fuel myself with new learning and ideas. This structure makes my day feel restful and relaxed, I’ve had plenty of time to myself and away from work, even though I’ve achieved a large amount of work in a high-performance state – something I’d never have managed if I’d just resigned myself to sit at my desk from 9-5.
LAST, but certainly not least, the holidays. Personally, I love to travel, exploring a new place with my partner is easily one of my favourite things to do, so for me travel is a huge part of my rewards and motivation system for WHY I run my business and do what I do. But even if travel isn’t an incentive for you personally, it is important to take complete breaks away from your business and your environment regularly. This time away allows your mind to completely disconnect, to experience a period free of responsibilities, expectations and “to-do” lists and switch off. Not only is this mental rest essential to enabling the brain to perform at its optimum capacity over a sustained period of time, it also again gives a chance for the mind to wander, for the subconscious to keep pondering solutions to those puzzles we’ve left in the office, for your creativity to have some space to breathe and bubble up with new ideas. Not only that but immersing yourself in a new culture has been proven to stimulate and enhance creativity, and the physical distance from our office often enables us to obtain a different perspective on the business and where we’re taking it. Vacations improve our happiness and that in turn improves our productivity, an improvement that usually lasts for several weeks after we return.
EACH of these types of breaks comes with its own myriad of benefits and I encourage you to try to incorporate each one of them to reap the rewards. Ultimately the better rested we are and the more energised we feel, the happier we’ll be. And happy business owners are higher-performing business owners.
“IF you want rest, you have to take it. You have to resist the lure of busyness, make time for rest, take it seriously, and protect it from a world that is intent on stealing it.” – Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Rest.
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