We are not tireless robots, nor do we lead robots. We maximize our productivity overall by consciously taking breaks.
Rhythm break during the day
Productivity is a function of focus. You’re more productive if you concentrate your attention on a specific type of work for a few minutes, then take a break. That “break” could be as simple as switching to a less taxing task, or strollin about for a few minutes. Get back to focused attention, and then take another break. There is even a formal, tested practice for this called Pomodoro.
These rhythm breaks give your mind and body an opportunity to recover. Conscious focus is easier if you know it’s for a specific time-period.
Sidebar: I chuckle when people complain about information “overload” – and take a break by checking Facebook. It’s clearly not information overload. And… there are probably other rhythm breaks than checking Facebook that will be more profitable for you.
Recovery break each week
Experience has proven the wisdom of taking a significant break from your regular work one day each week. You get to pick the day, and what you’ll do instead of your regular work. But make sure you get a full day away from your regular workflow.
You’ll be much more productive the other 5 or 6 days of the workweek, and over time you’ll stay healthier, too. Your mind and body need a regular rest day.
Curious observation: There is an astronomical basis for the day, month, and year. Hours and seconds are simply derived from a 24-hour day. But there is no astronomical basis for a 7-day week. Multiple cultures in history independently settled on a seven-day week. There is deep wisdom in “Six days you shall labor, and rest on the seventh day.” The Roman empire codified it for Western civilization.
One more thing: encourage the people in your organization to get a weekly rest day, as well. This is a hugely important aspect to resilience of your teams.
Restoration break several times a year
Leaders need critical “discharge and recharge” time. You also need to completely get away for a few days to two weeks, several times each year. You need to intentionally plan for this time “away.” Far too many busy leaders give into excuses and don’t take vacation days offered by their organization. Yes, it’ a perk, but smart organizations understand vacation time is an investment in strengthening and retaining employees. Burnout is far more expensive to organizations than a few weeks of paid vacation time.
Natural settings, travel, new experiences, extra naps, unscheduled time to just putter about – all are helpful parts of your leadership restoration break.
Incorporate these three types of breaks into your leadership craft. You’ll become a stronger and more effective leader through these investments.