Business is at full-throttle. You love your work, which leaves you in an exhilarated, heady mood at the end of a productive day.
But you can have too much of a good thing.
The same tasks that give you a mental buzz can also stress you out if you don’t take a breath and relax now and then. Before you know it, you’re fried to a crisp, which has a number of implications: You’re tired, exhausted, uncreative, unhappy, and maybe even sick.
We don’t want you to lose the fun factor in your work, or your passion for what you do. This is why we strongly feel that it’s critically important for you to take mental time-outs. Even toddlers get a chance to simmer down in time-out, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t revert. Soothe your inner kiddie when things get out of hand. You’ll regain and be able to retain your inner strength and creativity. Work – and life – will be enjoyable again.
You can take a vacation anytime. We’re not just talking about hopping a plane to Fiji, but taking time during the day to just walk away from the madness. Take a power nap. Play a computer game for 10 minutes. Listen to a song from your high school days that brings out your carefree 15-year-old. Walk down the block and get some java (make it decaf this time).
Rich: I’m a a yoga teacher, and I know the value of stopping for a few minutes to meditate or take nice, deep “cleansing” breaths.
If you call our offices, you may hear some barking in the background – and it’s not us barking out orders. My dog, Max, works alongside us as a stress-reliever. I mix the seriousness of our business with the simple joy of dog walks throughout the day. When I get back to the office, I’m refreshed (as is Max) and I’ve collected some new ideas along the way.
We take mental breaks so seriously that we even built a marketing product around the concept.
Jeff: We imported juggling balls from the UK in 1992-93 to create a juggling kit. It became a bestselling Father’s Day gift once we got it into department stores. We marketed it as a stress-reliever for executives, touting the idea that if you’re juggling, you’re concentrating on catching the balls, not the stressful business challenge that may be overwhelming you. You’re effectively wiping your brain clean like a chalkboard until you’re ready to re-face work issues.
Give yourself permission to breathe
We know that your clients are very important and that you only have a certain number of hours in the day to accomplish that big project. You aren’t comfortable telling your assistant to hold your calls while you take a 30-minute siesta. We get it. But you have to give yourself permission to stop.
Still not convinced? Consider the work ethic of some western Europeans, who spend fewer hours working each day than Americans, but are more productive per hour.
Here are some basic tactics that will help you deal with – and maybe remedy – your pressure-cooker business life:
Keep a time log. For two weeks, jot down how you spend every minute of your day. Then calculate how much time was wasted – who wasted it and how often. Now you can clearly see how much time you can devote to doing something good for yourself.
Plan for each activity. Most things take longer than you expect. Pad extra time around appointments to account for time-killers like traffic. It will help you get everything done in a more realistic way, and plan better for family and extracurricular activities.
Evaluate the quality of your clients. You know some people take more time than others. Is it really worth the time and effort to do business with them? Deal only with people who don’t take advantage of you, who pay you on time (and at the rate you deserve) and frankly, who are pleasant. Stress will take a dive. Time-consuming issues won’t be as frequent, because the people in your life won’t be as difficult. Result: More contentment, more time to yourself.
Our Bottom Line
Learn the art of mixing life’s enjoyment into your workday. Cuddle your kid, throw a ball to your dog, breathe in and really smell the aroma of a steaming cup of chai tea. Make R&R your mantra so you can tear into each task refreshed, excited and renewed.