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Why you must stop working all the time

Lead Change is a leadership media destination with a unique editorial focus on driving change within organizations, teams, and individuals. Lead Change, a division of Weaving Influence, publishes twice monthly with SmartBrief. Today's post is by Marilyn Paul.

Demands on leaders can be never-ending, and organizational overload is a troubling fact of today’s business culture. People are rushed and overwhelmed, trying to do more than they can. Too often, this causes more mistakes, more conflict, more work.

When people are overloaded, the natural tendency is to try to do more on less rest.  But what if I told you the secret to resetting, refocusing and restoring is stopping?

Holiday time is outstanding for initiating a practice of stopping work completely.  It is a time to step away from work to recover joy and deep purpose. 

Stopping entirely for an off-the-clock, off-the-hook break can seem risky and counterproductive. An executive I once coached, who was under immense pressure to work through the weekend in order to plan a retreat, chose instead to take a break and spend time with her family, hiking out in nature.  She was able to put aside work stresses and deeply replenish herself.

The results? She came to work on Monday with a new sense of energy and purpose. At the retreat, her top team was inspired to rethink their priorities and take different actions because she was so calm and clear.

How can you start carving out time to refresh?

  1. Start small. Carve out a few hours to take a walk, do some yoga, journal, read for leisure, spend time with friends and family. True renewal includes relaxed time with others. 
  2. Find the courage to say “No." Protect your time by saying no to any commitments that interrupt your scheduled time off.
  3. Reflect. After your time -- be it an hour or an entire day -- check in with yourself. What is most important? Do you feel more focused? More refreshed?  

To find balance in both our personal and our professional lives, to stay energized, to become an authentic leader, we need to add a sense of rhythm to our weeks -- go and then stop, go again and then stop again.

Our minds tell us that we can’t, but I assure you, we can.

 

Marilyn Paul, Ph.D., is a senior consultant with Bridgeway Partners, a firm focusing on high leverage leadership and change. Her most recent book is "An Oasis in Time: How a Day of Rest Can Save Your Life" (Rodale, 2017).

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