Think HBR

Do you need a break?

Being a business owner or senior manager can be very stressful and takes its toll, particularly mentally.
It is a large part of your life and who you are.
Work days are likely to be very full, with competing responsibilities and unexpected problems making your work life often exhausting.
Even when you leave work, the mixed blessing of smart phones and other electronic devices can mean you are never really out off duty.
Your importance to your business may make it feel that it is difficult for you to take the time off to have a break and recuperate, but the very fact that you are such a vital component of your business means that you need to be near peak condition, or the business will suffer. And there is no better way to get back to peak condition than to have a break, clear your mind, recharge and come back to work with renewed enthusiasm and in a more productive state, both physically and mentally.
It is recommended that you should try to have several smaller breaks and one longer break a year to keep in peak condition.
Even if you don’t feel it totally necessary, it is still wise to have an occasional break to prevent you becoming exhausted and heading towards burn out.

Signs you need a break

There can be many signs you need a break, and these will vary a little depending upon the individual and the nature of their work.
Common things to look for are:
• Falling productivity – you just cannot seem to fire on all cylinders
• Continual tiredness – perhaps through lack of sleep or perhaps you still feel tired after an 8 hour sleep
• Mistake rates – you are making more errors than previously
• Forgetfulness – your usual good memory seems to be deserting you
• Continually feeling stressed – stress is a normal part of being in business but if you feel stressed nearly all the time, than it may be time to take a break
• Falling levels of enthusiasm – you don’t feel as motivated as normal and don’t look forward to coming to work
• Physical health is failing – if you are continually stressed and exhausted, then sooner or later there will be repercussions for your physical health

Having a break

This is all very well I hear you say, but my business needs me to be there! If this is the case then you must look at the operations and how you can empower staff to cope with most day to day responsibilities.
During this process, and perhaps to test how your business can operate without you, you may consider to start with some short breaks – perhaps just a Friday off to make a long week end away.
It is amazing how even a few days’ break can help.
This new regular section in HBR will provide you with some options for getting away and recuperating, so you can return to work with more vigour and effectiveness.
In future issues we will also be covering some of the associated issues associated with having a break, including the psychology, operational structures and other factors.