The value of a break...

Last week I returned to the office after 2 and half weeks out. It was the longest holiday I’ve had in years and coming back in to the office felt strange. I mean, I was really happy to be back at work (genuinely) but I felt a little off kilter. It’s still taking a little while for normality to resume.

I will confess that I took my laptop away with me and I did do a little bit of work, however it was far less than I thought I would do. Whilst Stevie my COO is highly capable, I wanted to check in every so often to make sure I didn’t come back to a mountain of emails. I also like to be contactable in case of emergencies. The control freak in me wouldn’t be happy without my laptop!

Prior to going away I didn’t feel as if I needed a break. I felt pretty good. July and the first two weeks in August were busy, but nothing unmanageable.  I thought I was already fairly relaxed.

However, once you’re a week into a holiday and you still have 10 days to go, it’s amazing how much more relaxed you can get! You can fully unwind knowing you don’t have to think about much else for an extended period of time.

I understand that holidays aren’t affordable for everyone and also that the idea of an enjoyable holiday is subjective, but I can’t emphasize enough the positive impact of some time away from the office. 

It could be a few days at home (would recommend this whilst kids are at school!!). It could be a few days getting up late or playing your favourite sport or climbing mountains, whatever floats your boat.

The point is that regular time out of the office is so useful.

 A mental refresh, time to reflect, to re-design goals or analyse your vision. All these become clearer when you aren’t in the mire of running your business day to day.

There is stereotypical vision of business owners working 20-hour days, 7 days a week, and I give amazing credit to people built to work like that. I’m sure this is still the case for many people but, for me personally, I’m better when I’m not working in the business all day every day. My brain tends to gain clarity when I’m out walking the dog, or doing some exercise.

Recognising that this is how I function is a useful insight. It means that I can go to the gym in the middle of the day and justify that it’s worktime. I am joking of course.  Well, semi-joking!

The downside is that if – like me - you are thinking about work whilst out of work, are you ever able to switch off fully? A number of clients have enforced no phone/laptop time at home to be disciplined on not being distracted from quality family/relaxation time. I’ve not got to this level of dedication yet, but I do see the appeal.

But I also recognise that, for me, relaxing doesn’t necessarily have to mean switching off 100%. I genuinely enjoy pondering over my vision for my business, coming up with new ideas and concepts. The key is being able to do it in my own time, with no deadlines or agenda in the background.

As with almost everything in life, it’s about balance. Plus a little bit of self-awareness helps – to understand what defines a break for you, and to identify the steps you need to take to ensure you actually take one.