Work/Life

  • Why You Don’t Need That Vacation

    By Susan Battley

    Vacation-crop

                                                   “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”   – Marcel Proust

     

    With more than half of the year over and the summer zipping by, let’s take a fresh look at why you don’t need to take a break from work:

    • You think you’re indispensable. No one can fill your shoes, or hold down the fort in your absence. Even with all the available technologies that can keep you in touch with the office – and them with you – your physical presence is essential to keep disaster and mayhem from occurring.
    • Fresh ideas and perspective are immaterial to your ongoing success. Who needs a refresher period to spark creativity when you can bask in the comfort of same-old, stale thinking?
    • Others might slack off in your absence. You wouldn’t want to be a role model for anything other than a strong work ethic.
    • You have no personal life. Workaholism is a strategy for filling a void or avoiding challenges or dysfunctions in the rest of your life.

    I could go on, but I think you get my tongue-in-cheek point.

    Just as athletes need to alternate performance with rest periods for optimum results, smart professionals realize that vacations are critical to maintaining their competitive and creative edge at work.

    The alternative is a loser’s game, maybe not in the short-term, but definitely in the long run: burnout, subpar decision quality, and decreased innovation and motivation. Don’t delude yourself into thinking otherwise.

    “Yes, but…”

    A refrain I hear all too often from executives is: “Yes, I really want some down time, but there is simply no end to the incoming demands and issues I have to tackle.”

    If this is your day-to-day reality, consider it a red flag that you are spread too thin and your situation is unsustainable. 

    Corrective action is needed.  Often this involves structural changes in roles and responsibilities, delegating to others, or adding personnel.

    If you have a history of not taking vacations, canceling planned vacations or scaling back vacation time after the fact, consider these as warning signs that something is amiss with your attitude and/or actual work responsibilities or performance.  A compulsive workaholic organizational culture can also be at fault.

    If you are a leader or senior decision maker, it’s important that you set the tone for vacation time by your own example.  Individual, team and organizational productivity will benefit over the long-term and promote sustainable success.

    [See also, Vacation Approved: Five Vacation Action Tips ]

    Copyright © Susan Battley, PsyD, PhD. All rights reserved.

  • Concept

    Peak Performance Smarts: Vacation, Vacation!

    “Take a rest: a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”
    – Ovid

    Peak performance requires action, focus and persistence. However, for peak performance to be sustainable over the long-term, regular rest periods are also required for the body and mind to refresh.

    This is where Vacations come in.

    While a Vacation is not a complete cure-all for on-the-job challenges and workload, it can definitely help with regaining energy, perspective and balance. For leaders in particular, perspective and balance are key attributes for effectiveness.

  • Productivity Secrets_lowres

    “Lean Back” to Win? – Productivity and Competitive Advantage in the New Normal

    Americans now work 8.5 hours more per week than they did in 1979. Office workers spend more than a quarter of each day writing and responding to e-mails. And nearly one-third of working adults get six hours or less of sleep a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

    This bias to overwork, however, is not the route to innovation, optimal decision making or peak performance. Instead of “leaning in,” research on creativity and productivity tells us to “lean back” for competitive advantage.

    Finally, there’s an evidence-based case for “less being more.”

    Five Ways to “Lean Back” for Success

    1. Observe the 90-Minute Rule. Extensive research on peak performers ranging from athletes to musicians shows that working in 90-minute intervals maximizes productivity. This is because we move from a state of alertness progressively into fatigue approximately every 90 minutes.
    2. Include a “Do Nothing” Option. When making decisions , especially after lengthy deliberation and discussion, be sure to include a “Do Nothing” option. Adding this option to choices has been shown to correct the tendency towards a bias to action and doing more.
    3. Go for a Walk. Stanford researchers found that walking increases creativity substantially and with lingering post-activity effects. And it does not matter whether walking is indoors on a treadmill or outdoors.
    4. Take a Nap. A 60- to 90-minute nap improved memory test results as well as eight hours of sleep in research conducted at the University of California, Riverside. In another study, when air traffic controllers were given 40 minutes to nap, they performed much better on tests that measured vigilance and reaction speed.
    5. Get More Sleep. Studies show that lack of sleep is the single strongest predictor of job burnout. Increased sleep, on the other hand, has been shown to significantly increase physical and mental performance.

    Working Smart in the New Normal

    “Leaning back” involves a radical re-thinking of how to elevate individual, team and organizational performance in our 24/7 business world. The smart money is on strategic investment of time and energy. Leaders need to set a tone at the top with their own values and actions in promoting a culture of high-value time utilization and regular personal renewal.

  • Vacation Approved! – Five Vacation Action Tips

    “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer.” – Leonardo da Vinci

    Vacations allow you to refresh and reflect. Otherwise, you’re simply not bringing your best self to work.

    When it comes to vacations, one size definitely does not fit all. Some relish tranquility and pampering; others enjoy intense sightseeing and physical activity; and still others prefer a combination.

    Here are five tips for getting the most from your vacation:

  • Your Wake-Up Call Is . . Sleep

    “Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose
    a solid wall of sleep between the two.”
    – Ralph Waldo Emerson

    The benefits of a good night’s sleep have been extolled by scientists and philosophers throughout the ages.

    Yet it is estimated that one in three workers does not get enough sleep to perform optimally on-the-job.