You come out of a client meeting at 6PM and receive an urgent call from the product team. There is a critical bug that needs fixing and they’re struggling to tackle it. You cancel dinner with your partner and go straight back to the office and work shoulder-to-shoulder with the team all night. When you finally solve the problem, you see the sun coming up and your phone beeps to remind you that your big investor pitch is in 30 minutes. And it’s still only Tuesday!
Business leaders and entrepreneurs often put in superhuman effort to ensure that their business succeeds. 18 hr days 6 (or 7) day weeks, no vacations ever. Even making time for a birthday meal with family makes you feel guilty. You think this sacrifice is necessary, almost noble – but what if it does more harm than good?
Why it’s critical to take a break:
Recharge the body:
Chronic stress will literally kill you if you don’t do anything to address it. An elevated level of stress hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol and epinephrine can cause heart attacks, stomach pains, even increase your risk of diabetes. Lack of sleep will affect your judgement– and could put your business at risk if you have to drive while exhausted, for example.
Recharge the mind:
Research shows that we have a limited pool of mental resources, and when they run low, productivity suffers. You become less persistent and less able to solve problems. There is also evidence that your self-control decreases a little each time you force yourself to stay disciplined.
Recharge the soul:
When you’re tired, you’re grumpy. And when you’re grumpy, you are not in the right frame of mind to engage clients, excite staff, and accomplish your dreams. You might think that you can control your moods through iron discipline, but this just further taxes your mental resources and reduces your productivity.
Recharge your staff:
Your team looks to you for leadership and inspiration, and tend to follow your example. So, if you don’t take breaks, they may feel reluctant to do so. While you might wear this as a badge of pride, that your team is dedicated and willing to go the extra mile, for the reasons listed above, this tends not to be sustainable in the long-term. So even if you have boundless tolerance for pain and don’t feel you need a break, taking one gives your team licence to take the breaks that they almost certainly need!
Recharge your relationships:
It is sometimes easy to forget that a 24/7 entrepreneur lifestyle not only affects you, but also those closest to you. Birthdays forgotten, graduations missed, anniversaries neglected… these add up over time. So breaks are essential to building and maintain strong relationships and ensuring that you won’t need to walk the long path to success alone.
What counts as a break ?
Research has demonstrated that taking breaks – both short and long – is crucial for long-term high performance. Short breaks, such as taking a walk after 45 minutes of work, help energize and refresh. Try to avoid working lunches, but go out and have a meal. Exercise during lunch has been shown to increase productivity.
But with the holiday season approaching, we thought it timely to preach the benefits of longer breaks as well.
A minimum of 2 weeks is often recommended to give you sufficient time away from work stressors and recuperate from burnout – most people take several days to gradually wind down from work, so a weekend away usually isn’t enough!
More challenging than going away is actually detaching yourself from work. If you’re spending every moment thinking about work, then you won’t get the benefits of recharging. An entrepreneur is like a parent, you worry constantly about your baby. Yet many parents do manage to go on vacations without their kids – so what can you do as an entrepreneur?
How to take a break?
Perhaps we’ve jolted you into admitting that you need a break, but, you ask, how can I take a break when I’m critical to every single function in this company? I need to approve every invoice, write every proposal, tweak every blog post, lick every stamp …
Well, you don’t!
You are suffering from DIY disorder – the idea that you need to do everything yourself.
That is not possible in the long run, and even worse, it is not scalable. So you need to learn to hire people you can trust to execute tasks without your supervision. You’re building a sustainable long-term business, not personally saving the world! So make building a strong team a key focus area, and put in place processes and protocols that make revenue more predictable.
Breaks are essential if you want long-term success, and the sooner you learn how to take a break, the better your health, relationships and business will be for it!
BTW – if you’re looking for some interesting holiday reads – Check this !