Taking time away from work to relax is hard for most people, but especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to think if we can be working at any given moment, we should be working.
And so we do. We keep working – late into the night, on the weekends, during lunch — and “time off” ends up being the equivalent of a 2-hour dinner engagement during which we aren’t on our phones or computer. Yay us! We broke away!
Nobody really thinks this is a good idea (we know it’s bad for us), but we do it anyway.
Maybe in order to change our ways, we need to find out more about the benefits of taking time off. Here’s a quick list of how taking regular breaks can make your life a whole lot better:
Better Productivity: taking even short breaks can boost your productivity, causing you to get more done in less time. In his Forbes article, Kevin Krus explains how humans naturally focus well for about 90 minutes and then need a break to recharge and prepare for the next focus session.
Particularly interesting is the study Krus mentions which found that the most productive employees took more breaks and didn’t work more than the other employees(!) In their case, the productive employees worked for 52 minutes and then took a 17-minute break.
Improved Willpower and Reasoning: working too long without a break causes decision fatigue, which results in decreased willpower and reasoning ability. You will also be more prone to procrastination after decision fatigue sets in. Willpower is like a muscle; it can only be exercised/used for so long before it wears out and needs rest for recharging.
Better Health: it’s easy to take our health for granted until it is compromised, but longer breaks (such as vacations) can significantly impact health. They can reduce the risk of heart disease, headaches and backaches, and they can improve sleep (a critical component for short term and long term health).
Improved Workflow: if you’ve ever taken even a few days off, you know how much work is involved in prepping for it. You inventory all your projects and outstanding items, wrap up all the small tasks, make notes and lists and set up reminders so you can step away with a sense of control.
You probably also provide instructions for other team members, so they can jump in while you are absent. The result is a peaceful feeling of control and calm, making it easier to get things done when you return. This hidden gem of benefit is one of the very best things about taking some time off.
Next Step: if you would like to begin experiencing some of the benefits of taking time off, you don’t have to dive in with a 2-week vacation next month. Start small if you need to. Schedule in a couple of 20-minute breaks during your day, and gradually work up to taking more time off. Once you experience the greater productivity, better concentration, improved sleep and over all sense of well-being, you’ll be hooked.