Are you taking time off this summer? Even just a long weekend can help us recharge our batteries.
In their book Peak Performance, Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness, document the negative impact of working too hard, and how in fact, contrary to what we might believe, resting up, taking time off, actually creates better outcomes.
In one study of over 2,500 companies in 90 countries worldwide they found that the most pressing challenge in today’s workplace is people are feeling overwhelmed, in part because they feel they must always be “on.” It was found that people check their cell phones almost 150 times a day.
This non-stop, frenetic work doesn’t just leave us feeling depleted, it is also bad for our health – contributing to anxiety, depression, insomnia, obesity, infertility, cardiovascular disease and a host of other ailments that are detrimental to the quality of our lives.
Stress isn’t necessary all bad – in moderation – and can propel us into action, but long term, continuous stress can take its toll.
In their extensive research into what is instrumental in peak performance, they found that “the brightest minds spend their time either pursuing their activity with ferocious intensity or engaging in complete restoration and recovery.”
In other words those that perform well, both work AND play hard. They alternate between cycles of stress and rest. The authors recommend that we insert short breaks throughout our day, dividing our work into 50-90 minute blocks, with two hours being the maximum. And don’t negate the power of that twenty-minute nap as it can refuel us.
They also observed that ‘aha’ or ‘eureka’ moments occurred more frequently during those down times, allowing for new ideas to come to the surface when we are not forcing our thoughts on work.
I know I have had times when I’ve stepped away from a problem and with time to reflect, come up with a creative solution that likely would not have emerged if I’d kept working at it.
It is ironic that many of us start our businesses because we want more control over our lives, and yet, often our businesses end up controlling us – if we allow it. We tend to work long hours, striving to be successful in our business venture.
However, in Peak Performance, one of the core messages is that we need to reframe rest and see it as a vital activity that supports growth and adaption. It’s a productive time that we give to ourselves.
You could say that taking time to rest and have fun is investing in yourself. It is money in the bank, because when you get back to work, you are better able to manage what is ahead.
Company of Women
I have had an eclectic career from running non-profit organizations and being editor of a national magazine, to working for government on women’s issues. In 2003 I launched Company of Women, an organization that supports women in business. A prolific blogger, I also write for the Huffington Post, and several other online publications. I am the author of five books on women and entrepreneurship, and co-author of Good Enough. Embrace who you are. Unleash your brilliance. which is available on amazon.ca In June, 2016 I launched Full Circle Publishing offering one-stop services to get your words out into the world.