Have you taken a break recently? You know, a holiday?
Recent stats revealed that 11% of Australians took no leave in 2014 and each of us has on average 5 days accrued unused annual leave.
Why? – well apparently we’re either too busy to take time off or sometimes we’re stockpiling to take a bigger trip later on.
Does this matter?
Yes, because working hard while very commendable, rewarding, and sometimes, let’s admit it, enjoyable, isn’t great for continuing high performance.
Our brain is designed to allow us to focus, create, imagine and think best in chunks of time. The trouble is we’ve been abusing our brains by driving them to think hard all day long. This chews up an enormous amount of mental energy leaving us cognitively exhausted. Tired brains are less capable of problem solving, making good decisions and flexible thinking. Just as professional athletes, rock stars and stage performers take time off at the end of the ‘season’ to rest and rejuvenate we need that time out as well.
Unfortunately in business, the work season can appear never-ending, which means we have to instigate the brain breaks required to ensure we too get the chance to step off the hamster wheel of perpetual work and busyness.
Sometimes it’s good to take that vacation one step further and completely disconnect from the modern world so as to slow down our thinking and re-engage with the simplicity of just living, with no email, no phone, and no computer.
That provides us the thinking space to just be, to reflect on what matters and what you want to do next.
My friend and colleague Mike House is a survival expert and each year he takes a small band of business owners into the Pilbara to experience just that.
Whether you book a 3-day break, or a 2-week sojourn to South East Asia doesn’t matter. What does matter is having the time away from work, to give your brain the break it deserves, so when you get back, you’re ready to work at your very best again.
Do you ensure you take regular brain breaks?
Does your work culture recognise the value of rest and renewal?
What needs to be done differently in your world to help your brain maintain high performance?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.