Last year I took a ten-day vacation and enjoyed sunshine, beaches, books and drinks that came with umbrellas. It had been almost 2 years since my husband and I were able to walk away from our careers, dogs, and the normal day-to-day to relax. Several people questioned the wisdom of a 10-day vacation. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago and I would have questioned it.
Most of my career and life has been sans vacations, or at the most, limited vacations. I was raised with a very strong work ethic and there was always work to be done. I believed that I owed it to myself and my employer to be dedicated to the work. I only took rare vacations for very special occasions or to go and visit loved ones. This work style also meant that I often skipped lunch or ate at my desk while working. I was driven to have increasing levels of productivity and since we all have 24 hours in the day; I had to optimize every single one.
This mindset has been part of many company cultures and individual work ethics for several years. Promotions and career advancement often followed those who demonstrated dedication by working long hours. In some cultures, the focus was on the effort more than the results. Research now shows that this behavior rarely led to better results and increased productivity.
A few years ago, I was introduced to a book, Peak Performance, which explored and explained why my method of work was a less than an optimal process. Disappointing for someone who took pride in her effectiveness and productivity. This book’s research and insights were completely opposite and counterintuitive to what had been my standard of productivity. Turns out I was missing a key element to the formula for ultimate results. Working hard was only a portion of what was required. Research revealed that all the top producers in their field take breaks frequently. While they work hard, they also rest hard.
I really do want to make my hours in each day count for what is important. I truly love being productive. So as I read the research, I realized that I need to change my day-to-day if I really wanted to sustain a lifetime of productivity in whatever I was doing. I also realized that as a leader, I’m modeling for my team how to be most productive. This has become especially important as the impacts of stress on our employees continues to rise. Gallup’s latest State of the Global Workplace report, 57% of all groups surveyed were experiencing stress on a daily basis, which is up from the prior year. Not unusual considering that we have been living through a global pandemic.
Peak Performance made me realize why breaks and vacations were actually going to increase my productivity. The research they provided, as well as other readings I did, crystallized for me that the work hard and never rest mentality was actually harming my growth and productivity. The authors, Brad Stulberg & Steve Magness share a formula that sums up the research: stress + rest = growth. Just to be clear, they were not referring to being stressed out, but the stress like making a muscle stronger.
I began to realize that as I took even short breaks and set better boundaries about when I would work and when I would not, I had breakthroughs in my thinking. Those “aha” moments don’t break through constant activity. Only in combination of work and rest can true breakthrough happen resulting in growth and increasing innovation and creativity.
So, my 10 days of rest was required to reset after an intense 2020 and with the supply chain challenges that began and are still continuing , it was important that I had time to reset, so that I could bring my best ideas and self to the table at E4D Technologies. I learned an important lesson in my time off, giving yourself a break is just as important as keeping up your work ethic. Be sure to explore the rest of our blog page to find more information on what goes on behind the scenes at E4D Technologies!
Photo Sourced from E4D Technologies