Often, managers believe that employees who do more get more stuff done. Not exactly.
Do you want employees who perform at the top of their game? Of course, you do –everyone does. Often, managers believe that doing more gets more done. In reality, people who are pushing themselves beyond their capacity are tired, they make more mistakes, they get into more conflicts, and they are ultimately less productive.
There are managers who encourage balance, but there are also those who discourage vacations, encourage working on weekends, and too often push their employees beyond their limits. These managers may also become frustrated that the work presented is not the quality expected.
Recently, Dr. Marilyn Paul, author of An Oasis In Time: How a Day of Rest Can Save Your Life and senior consultant with Bridgeway Partners, reminded me that while it is true employees can give their all and get great results during short-term sprints, people need breaks; and a true break means putting down devices, reconnecting with the people who are close to you, and stepping away from work entirely.
She should know. Dr. Paul experienced significant burnout and a need to completely rethink her approach to getting things done in this non-stop world.
How to break from non-stop productivity
It isn’t easy, but it is possible to learn how to break away from non-stop action, let go of the to-do lists, and create personal connections, enjoyment, and play. As she discovered, managers who encourage their employees to take a true break each week will see surprising results.
Dr. Paul says it is vital to remind employees of these five things.
1. Remind them of the “Why” of stopping the action.
If people don’t value the power of deep rest and renewal, they won’t do it. Rest restores health, energy, creativity, and perspective. Athletes know that renewal is essential to stay on top of their game. Have your employees make a list of the benefits of restorative time away from work. Remind them that time off restores vitality, and they will have more energy to get the right things done when they return.
2. Experiment with an hour off each week.
Encourage people to start with a restorative hour each week. Ask them to set a beginning and an ending for that hour and put down their action list. There are many things they can do that enable rejuvenation. They can go for a slow walk. Play with a pet. Enjoy a rare moment of introspection. Shoot some hoops for the fun of it.
3. Plan ahead for ‘Stop Time’ and protect that time.
We live in a world where there is always something else to do. There is always an email to answer or a meeting to prepare for. On the personal front, there is always a pile to sort, a workout to do, or food to purchase and prepare. Without planning ahead, precious downtime will disappear and the valuable results won’t happen. Marilyn calls this “the-just-one-more-thing syndrome.” People have got to get used to stopping in the middle of the action.
4. Be playful.
It turns out that human beings need playfulness at every age. Stuart Brown, author of Play, says that play is essential for innovation, creativity, and joy. Google builds playtime into the structure of the workweek because play is so beneficial. Managers can encourage playfulness at work and outside of work.
5. Be brave.
Stopping takes courage since our culture is steeped in the benefits of productivity. True hard work can lead to a well-lived satisfying life. But overwork can lead to the sacrifice of vitality and joy.