We all know we need to take a break occasionally – to unplug and recharge. (Those two don’t usually go together.) Life and work just get in the way. And before we know it, another month is gone. Another year is gone. Time gets away from us. And we continue pushing ourselves and our teams to the point of burn out.
Several weeks ago, I was leaving town for a week-long vacation with my wife, Sarah, and our 7-year-old daughter, Madison.
On the way out of town, I stopped briefly to meet a client. We spoke for a few minutes, and as I turned to leave, I promised to email some information later that day.
Sitting in the car, Madison overheard my promise and said to her mom as I opened the car door, “Mom, Dad is NOT allowed to send any emails this week!”
It’s interesting that a 7-year-old understands the importance of taking a break when so many leaders struggle with maintaining energy and focus.
It’s time we admit it – this is poor behavior. And this behavior is not sustainable. It’s time to take a break!
No phone. No email. And no social network.
Here are 3 ideas I’ve experimented with when I needed to take a break!
1. Get plenty of rest
Something I’ve realized is that, there are times when I am just tired rather than discouraged or frustrated. I simply need more rest!
It’s easy to confuse the two because the symptoms are similar. You might be able to get away with short nights occasionally, but if you continue to cheat your sleep you will eventually burn out.
Of all the things that affect my energy, focus, and productivity, nothing is more important than getting a good night’s sleep. Exercise and diet are important, but they can’t make up for a lack of rest.
I am significantly more productive when I’ve had a full night’s sleep. Problems that previously seemed insurmountable become manageable when I’m on my game.
2. Take a day off
Maybe you’ve never considered this before – how about planning an entire day off just for YOU! It seems simple enough – but when’s the last time you tried it?
Let’s be honest – who would stop you? Many vacation days get sucked up with trips here or there and with household chores or errands. Instead, plan a day for YOU!
What do you enjoy doing? Where do you enjoy going? How do you unwind best? Indulge in your recreational hobby or try something new that you’ve always wanted to do.
You’ll be surprised how therapeutic the experience is. And you’ll return to your family and work refreshed and renewed.
3. Get Away
Unplug. Take a sabbatical. Go on vacation.
Resist the temptation to pack the vacation full of activities, theme parks, and sight-seeing. Take a break – for real!
Even though our time away a few weeks ago was brief, I returned home more rested than I had felt in months – maybe years!
This may seem a little counterintuitive – to really relax, I had to be purposeful in a few areas while we were away:
1. Be all there. This is what Madison was trying to communicate to me and her mom – there’s no way dad will be able to relax if he’s thinking about email.
As it turned out, getting away and disconnecting was exactly what I needed. It allowed me to be fully engaged in the experience with them without the temptation to be somewhere else mentally.
2. Engage in deep conversation. Getting away from the busyness of home, school, ministry, and work offers an opportune time to catch up with family and friends. It’s too easy to pass time in shallow conversation and activities.
While we were away, I spent hours just listening to my girls. Walking with them – for miles. Laughing. And we were all refreshed and energized by our time together.
3. Spend time alone. Although I am naturally outgoing in my work – I am more reclusive at home and with friends. When I’m not working, I generally like being alone or working on projects in seclusion. And that’s ok! Sometimes the best way to recharge is by getting away – alone.
Question: What do you do to get away? How do you prefer to use your time off?