As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get in a groove.
During busy times, that groove typically looks like work-sleep-repeat. While that’s sometimes necessary in order to get a business venture off the ground, it’s not a healthy or productive long-term strategy.
If your life consists of only working and sleeping, you’re making a huge mistake. Your body needs rest and your brain needs a break.
Here's why, and how to make it happen for you.
The Root of the Problem
The human body, while strong and capable of accomplishing incredible feats, is not indestructible. Our brains and bodies can only handle so much exertion before they shut down and fail to perform.
While most people think about extreme sports and athletic competitions when considering how the human body can shut down, the reality is that the problem hits much closer to home than many think.
“In a normal working day in modern America, there’s a sense of so much coming at you at once, so much to process that you just can’t deal with it all,” says Michael Taft, a freelance writer and meditation teacher. Taft’s suggestion is prolonged periods of mindful meditation. And while you may not feel like meditation is your best option, something must be done.
According to a 2010 LexisNexis survey of 1,700 workers in the United States, South Africa, China, Australia, and the United Kingdom, it found that employees in every market experiences a breaking point where they can no longer process the information they receive.
While the European Union is known for allowing employees 20 days of paid vacation each year, the U.S. government has no federal law guaranteeing employees a certain amount of time off each year. Many employees are fortunate to get 10 days off per year. Others have to save up their vacation days for years in order to maximize their use.
But it’s not necessarily the employer’s fault. While a Harris Interactive survey found that although Americans get an average of 10 days off per year, the average employee has approximately nine unused vacation days at the conclusion of each year. Furthermore, when employees do take time off, they generally report feeling obliged to get work done while away from the office.
So, what does all this say? Well, it indicates that the average American worker is pushing themself too hard. The challenging aspect of this problem is that “pushing beyond your limitations” is seen as admirable in the modern workforce. While working hard is respectable and honorable, it’s critical that entrepreneurs understand the importance of recharging and unplugging on a regular basis.
Related Article: Your Employees Are Scared To Take Vacation. Fix That!
4 Specific Tips for Unplugging and Recharging
Regardless of who you are, how important you believe your endeavors are, and how time-critical your work is, you need to unplug and recharge on a consistent basis. In fact, any time you spend recharging will pay off in the form of more productivity and creativity when you return to work.
And despite what you may think, you don’t have to take a month long vacation or meditation retreat to feel rejuvenated. You can simply incorporate some of the following convenient tips and strategies into your everyday life to experience beneficial results.
1. Get Some Exercise
How many times have you told yourself something along the lines of, “If I just had another half an hour during the day, I’d get some exercise.” We all tend to say and believe that. Well, you need to make the time. As Benjamin Franklin once famously said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Just because you work 8-10 hours a day, doesn’t mean you don’t have time to take care of yourself.
Not only is physical exercise good for your body, but it also improves your brain’s ability to function. “There’s very good science that running for even 30 minutes or so doubles the number of brain cells in certain portions of the brain related to memory,” says Gretchen Reynolds, a columnist for The New York Times.
Carving out 30 minutes each day really isn’t that difficult. Options include showing up a little earlier, leaving a little later, or eating your lunch at your desk and using your break for exercise. You’ll feel much better about your day and the endorphins your body releases during physical activity will have the added bonus of killing chronic desk-related pain.
Related Article: Get Up and Get Out: Walking Meetings Are Your New Creativity Booster
2. Change Your Work Environment
Working in the sample place every single day kills both creativity and productivity. Your brain becomes numb to things that are around you and work becomes nothing more than a process. Have you ever thought about changing up your work environment? Well, there are a number of ways to make this happen.
- Redesign your office. Do you have the ability to reconfigure or redesign your office? Something as simple as moving your desk or changing the artwork on the walls can reboot your brain and enhance creativity.
- Work somewhere new. Have you ever thought about heading to the coffee shop down the street and spending a couple hours working from there? If this is an option for you, give it a try. You may be surprised to learn how much you’re affected by completely altering your immediate environment.
- Work from home. Many employees get a boost from spending time working from home each week. Talk to your employer and see if you can work from home one or two mornings each week. As technologies become more sophisticated, an increasing number of employers are becoming comfortable with the idea of remote employees.
3. Eat Lunch Outside
While there are times when eating lunch at your desk can save you time (including the example above), other people will find it more beneficial to utilize their lunchtime as their recharging time. In these instances, you should not work at your desk (or even in the office break room).
When the weather is good, eating outside can give you an enormous–and quite literal–breath of fresh air. Find a quite place, eat your lunch and avoid technology. Instead of checking your smartphone and reading through your social media newsfeeds, use this time to read a book, or simply lose yourself in your own thoughts. By the time your 30 minutes or hour is up, you’ll be ready to refocus and get back to work.
4. Completely Disconnect
Sometimes you need an entire day or week off from work. When you take these extended breaks, you should learn to totally disconnect. Let your coworkers and/or employer know that you’ll be utilizing this break as much as possible. Shut off all electronics and spend time with your friends and family. Avoid talking about work and do things you don’t normally get to do during the week. This refreshing change of pace can really help your brain recharge.
Putting It All Together
Are you overworking your body without giving it the rest it needs to be healthy and productive? If so, you’re committing the one critical mistake that all entrepreneurs make at one time or another. Using the tips and strategies contained in this article, discover ways in which you can recharge and reboot your brain on a daily basis. You’ll find that you’re much less susceptible to burnout or work fatigue and better able to perform at your peak.