The Importance of Rejuvenation
I hear comments like that on a regular basis. Far too often it’s said as a badge of honour — the entrepreneur-martyr who is so focused on building his business that he refuses to take time for anything else.
Other times, it’s spoken in a whisper, through a voice cracking with desperation from a business owner who is ready to throw in the towel.
Regardless of where on the spectrum the statement comes from, it’s unhealthy, unwise, and harmful to both the owner and the business they are trying to lead.
We are not designed to work 70+ hours per week, 52 weeks of the year. There is far too much scientific proof that shows the damage caused by overworking. It affects us physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Want to get more done? Take time off.
One of the arguments I hear from people who never take time off is that they have too much to do. “I’d love to take a vacation, but I have far too much to do, to take the time away.”
And yet, research has shown the opposite to be true. Taking time to rejuvenate actually increases productivity. A study by Ernst & Young revealed that for each additional 10 hours of vacation employees took, their year-end performance ratings improved by 8 percent!
The harder you work, the more information your brain processes. One 2011 study suggests we take-in the equivalent of 174 newspapers of information every day. Our amazing brains process all this information and categorize it for later retrieval.
The problem is that while our brains are processing all that information, the part of our mind that daydreams and wanders is dormant. The two parts of the brain are like a seesaw; when one is active, the other is not.
We need to take time to let our minds dream. Vacations, days off, or even a few uninterrupted hours of relaxation can do wonders to our brains capacity to rejuvenate. It’s during those moments that some of the best visionary ideas can come to us.
It’s why so many people experience brilliant ideas while in the shower!
Three ways to rejuvenate
If you haven’t taken time off in recent years, the idea of doing so might be quite frightening. Let me suggest a few “baby steps” that you can take.
1. Go for a walk
Commit 30 minutes a day (or at least three times a week) to go for a walk, preferably somewhere quiet. My wife and I take our dog for a good 30-45 minute walk every morning along the Ottawa River. It is a beautiful walk and a time for us to enjoy being together. In addition, I try to walk to work as often as I can. All in all, I walk between 5-10kms every day. The more I walk, the more productive I am.
2. Schedule “Rejuvenation Time” into your calendar
Block off at least half a day every week and do something that you love to do. Golf, ride a bike, visit a museum, do some gardening. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something that you find relaxing. Mark your calendar as busy and make the scheduled time a priority. When you’re tempted to give up this time for work-related duties, remind yourself that this scheduled half day break will increase productivity during the rest of the week. It’s too valuable to give up.
3. Take a minimum three day vacation
Ideally, you should be taking at least a full week (or two) in order to unwind and refocus. But, if the thought of taking seven full days off from work evokes a nervous twitch, then start with three full days. Use this time to unplug from anything to do with work. If you absolutely cannot go three days without checking your email, then allow yourself 15-30 minutes first thing in the morning to respond to any critical email, then focus on relaxing.
Rejuvenation is a choice
You must choose to take time to recharge. No one will do it for you. Sadly, I have met far too many business owners who believed they could not take time for themselves. I would give them example after example of very successful entrepreneurs who ran incredibly large and complex organizations who took time to recharge every day / week / year.
And yet some believed it was different for them. Sadly, many burned out and ended up losing everything.
Choose to be kind to yourself. Allow your body, soul and mind time to rejuvenate. When you do, you’ll be amazed at how more productive you will be.