Shielding my eyes from the early morning Caribbean sun, I watched the wake of the cruise ship as it cut through the waves. There was little noise from the early risers and I could hear a couple of gulls crying out in the distance, signaling that land was not too far away. The rising sun was warm on my face, as I stood on the balcony, heralding another unbearably hot day. My family still slept in the cabin behind me, so I took the opportunity to sit back and relax while all was peaceful, quiet and not yet too hot to bare. It was not to last as my phone vibrated in my pocket and pinged at me five times in quick succession. A reminder that there was still a business to run as I scanned over the emails that just disturbed the peace.
We are only human. We all want to work to live not live to work. Though, that concept can be forgotten at times. The freedom of working for yourself has its limits as the line between work and personal life can get blurry. It is easier to devote long hours to running a business when the time spent is on something you enjoy. Though it still work and those long hours could develop numerous mental, physical and social problems.
Success doesn’t come from working 24 hours, seven days a week. More hours do not necessarily mean more productivity. In fact, research has shown that the part of the brain responsible for executive functions, such as memory, decision making and focus, is affected when we burn ourselves out. Running a business should come with a health warning: side effects include fatigue, loss of motivation and hair loss. Can be prevented with plenty of rest, yoga and medicinal fluids.
Office workers in Japan are encouraged to sleep on the job, companies are confident that it will lead to better work performance. We have all felt that refreshed feeling when we take a few minutes away from the desk. So, it is not surprising that having a 20-minute cat nap or a 30-minute siesta in the workday is thought to work like a dream.
In Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang shares his definition of rest. It is more than just putting your feet up to watch a box set back to back, with a Gin in one hand a slice of Margarita pizza in the other. Restful activities that are often vigorous and mentally engaging, like climbing a mountain or a 20-mile hike, something that is a complete break from normal working life. In an interview, Alex told Scientific American
“When you do things like go for a long walk, your subconscious mind keeps working on problems. The experience of having the mind slightly relaxed allows it to explore different combinations of ideas, to test out different solutions.”
In Ted Talk, The Power of Time Off, graphic designer, Stefan Sagmeister, talks about his sabbaticals and how they have benefited his company. He talks of closing his company for a year in every seven to regenerate and reclaim their creative outlook, he explains “The work that comes out of these years flows back into the company.”
Richard Branson has his famous Necker Island and Bill Gates travels the Mediterranean in his rented yacht. Mark Zuckerberg has annual honeymoons to Japan, France or traveling around the USA. They know how to remind themselves that they exist outside of work with a family and with friends. They know that rest is what gets the job done.