By Jonathan Flaks, M.C.C. – Executive Coach and Board Member of ACG New York
As we get closer to the holidays, it’s “crunch time” for a lot of people in our middle-market, growth capital community. It seems like a vacation may be just around the corner, or it may run the risk of not being in the cards. Either way, it’s time to take a break! And taking this break may actually have a significant positive impact on your productivity, wellness and the important relationships in both your business and personal life.
Research from the Mayo Clinic points to the importance of taking breaks often. If you’re in the middle of a deal, or if it’s just the middle of the day, taking a break gives your brain a chance to refuel. The part of your brain where you do all your concentration and thinking, the pre-frontal cortex, is known to be a “resource hog.”
Similar to the muscles in your arms and legs, the brain requires a significant amount of oxygen, water, glucose and rest in order to function at optimal levels. If you plow ahead without a pit stop, you can burn out your ability to do your best thinking, inventing or communicating. If a pit stop is okay for a NASCAR or INDY racer, it is good enough for you! You’ll feel it when it’s missing, and I hope you become more aware of it, especially if you’ve gotten used to ignoring the feeling.
Here’s what to do instead:
- Some experts recommend taking a 10 minute break every hour, others suggest you can find your own rhythm, but consider at least taking some time away from a focused task after two hours of continuous work. A break doesn’t have to mean sneaking away somewhere for a nap, and in fact, breaks shouldn’t be sedentary. Movement of some sort along with deep breathing, a walk up and down the hall or a short visit outdoors for some fresh air can work wonders for your mind.
- Drink water – it helps!
- Beyond just taking short breaks during the working day, consider the importance of taking a vacation.
If you’re working on a deal that has a deadline, consider being the leader you have always wanted to be (or whispering in the ear of the leaders you are working with) to make the following information available: according to Dr. Michael W. Smith as published on WebMD, “People who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals… It doesn’t have to be two weeks in Europe, either”
Isn’t your happiness and your family’s fulfillment the reason you work so hard anyway? On that note, on behalf of my family and the whole gang at ACG-NY, Happy Holidays to you and yours, and don’t miss the next blog post here for some extra holiday cheer.