Build Rest and Play Into Everyday
For the past couple weeks I have found myself searching for Hawaii vacations. The idea of a sandy beach and warm ocean water are incredibly appealing to me right now. Of course, the timing is lousy. I have a series of client days already booked. Plus it’s the holidays. So it’s one of the more expensive times of the year for travel. How did I get to this point where a vacation seems almost a requirement?
I have been working for 27 days straight without much more than a few hours off, really.
Between face-to-face hours with clients I have been trying to build a stronger social media presence, writing, reading and posting to ensure our new brand and website gets up and running.
I have some extended family issues that demand attention and connection.
My office is at home. So it is easy to work at night and often without much of a break.
I don’t think this schedule is uncommon for many business leaders. However, I also don’t think it’s healthy or productive.
So what to do? Hawaii really isn’t the solution. No, what’s needed is counter intuitive. Instead of working more, sleeping less, and soldiering on, what I really need is to interrupt my work on a day-to-day basis and build in REST & PLAY. Yes, that’s right – two words that are rarely used in business, but are essential for success: REST & PLAY.
Let’s start with REST. A great deal of study has been done on elite athletes. One interesting study involved tennis players and how they utilized the breaks between games. The best results came from those who totally shut down during their breaks. No coaching, no music, no mental replays – just stillness, quiet and resting.
Another study involved world leaders such as Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy, both of whom were known for taking ten-minute naps throughout the day. It seems that after 90 minutes of mental concentration our abilities diminish quickly unless we take a break. Ten minutes is really all we need. Take a nap. Take a short walk outside. But make it a clear break.
A variation on this theme is the importance of transitions in staying productive. CrisMarie can be terrible at this. Every time she finishes something, wanting to continue to be efficient, she immediately goes to her To-Do list and picks off her next task. That is until she runs out of gas and feels overwhelmed with her workload somewhere around 3 or 4 PM.
She started to build in a pause after finishing something major. This not only allowed her to let her sense of a “job well done” sink in, but she was able to check inside and take a bigger view of what was most important to turn towards next.
Yes, I know for all you driven leaders out there this is not easy. I know I often want to plow through and not take an actual break until the work is done. It is helpful to know that the best elite athletes and world leaders take naps, breaks, and pause for transitions.
Maybe you could as well.
Now, I know that comes a bit harder. However, this may even be more important.
It’s easy to think of play as something children do, but there is so much more that play has to offer. There’s an actual National Institute of Play, who’s founder, Dr. Stuart Brown has been conducting years of research that shows the importance of play in terms of transformation, creativity, problem-solving and dealing with power differentials that show up in animal and human dynamics.
Stuart Brown’s TED Talk on play included an amazing clip involving a small husky dog and big hungry polar bear.
The husky was certain to be the polar bear’s lunch!
Instead, the husky invited the bear to play. A simple play bow invite from a small female husky to a predatory big polar bear resulted in a new storyline for the husky. Instead of a fight to the death, the animals played, which ended in cuddles.
Though the research isn’t as established for us humans, I have little doubt that a sincere invitation to play could do more to bridge differences than any other usual intervention.
Because play lights up all parts of the brain. We think more creativity, remember more and develop an emotional regulation that would otherwise not occur.
So what is play? Any type of activity that is unstructured and without a defined purpose is one definition. Play can be social. It can be imaginative. It can involve objects or movement. The key is unstructured and without a specific purpose.
Something as simple as a 30 second dance can be play, totally lighting up the brain.
Doesn’t that sound much more productive than plowing through?
Bottom-line: Introducing regular interruptions for short breaks and playful moments will do much more for your business than hours of concentrated effort that later result in dreams of an Hawaiian vacation. Plus, if I am more productive, well, that vacation might become a reality not a requirement. Doesn’t that sound like much more fun?
How You Can Revive
We want you to be at your best. Yes, it is counter intuitive, but to do that build in more rest and play in your every day.(See how I rhymed that just there – that was fun!)
Do you leave time even in between meetings? Even to allow yourself to get from one place to another.
Do you drive yourself to cram in as much as possible during the day?
Do you pause working after a certain amount of time?
Play your favorite dance tune and just move
Take a walk
Visit a dog park (dogs are masters at play!!)
Can you tell these are a few favorites of mine. Borrow one of them or find experiment with a few of your own favorite things to do!
To Sum it Up
In truth, I am more likely to get to Hawaii, if I become more productive now by working rest and play into every day.
CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke
Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict
CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.
They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.
Check out their website: www.thriveinc.com. Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.