Performance: Take time to disconnect from work

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:33 pm

Many busy people think of sleep as a luxury that can be cut back without much consequence. Research, however, refutes the notion that it is possible to be in truly good health without adequate sleep on a regular basis.
Consistent with this thinking, many business leaders also believe there is no adverse consequence to never completely disconnecting from their work. Just as it is important to our overall health to get enough sleep on an ongoing basis, it is also important to our overall effectiveness in our work and personal life to completely disconnect from our work on a regular basis.
For some people, this is an impossible notion to accept. They believe you can mix work with play seven days a week with no adverse consequences to their overall effectiveness, creativity, health and family life.
The alternative view is that work is work, and play is play. It’s important to compartmentalize key aspects of your life, providing your mind and body with an opportunity to completely disconnect, unwind, rest and rejuvenate.
Maximizing effectiveness and enjoyment in both work and personal life requires we manage a healthy balance between the two. For business owners and leaders, this is sometimes a difficult challenge. It is important to recognize and acknowledge that business owners and leaders almost never stop thinking about work and the challenges they face. Their responsibilities at work require greater and greater attention and focus to perform. This increase in attention, focus and performance implies an increased demand on our time.
A couple of years ago, a friend of mine who is a business owner said, "It seems as if life is progressing at an increasingly accelerated pace." At times, we all must feel this way, and to minimize this experience, we need to find ways to disconnect from work. But, modern conveniences make it harder to do.
Technology makes
it difficult
Recently, I found myself contemplating the purchase of a new cell phone with Internet capability so I could access my e-mail wherever and whenever. After thinking this through more completely, I decided that although this is a very effective and appropriate tool for some, it is not for me, at least not now. This particular piece of technology contradicts the concept of compartmentalizing one’s life in an effort to achieve and/or maintain the proper balance between work and personal life.
Many of us send and receive e-mails over the weekend, and that’s fine. I just want to control when I send and receive them. For me personally, the cell phone with Internet capability would constantly taunt me all weekend long. If I had that capability, I know I would give in ultimately, expanding my work week to seven days.
The importance
of free time
Ask yourself how many times you’ve taken a couple work files with you on a family vacation or you’ve decided to interrupt a free or play day to spend some time working. Better yet, count the number of free days you’ve taken in the last month, quarter or year where, for a 24-hour period of time, you didn’t check voice mail or e-mail, didn’t review a file and didn’t talk to anyone about work.
When you consistently allow work to enter into your free time, you’ve reengaged your mind, body, nervous system and emotional senses back into your work world. Just as sleep is important to maintaining a healthy body, time away from work rejuvenating yourself is important to ensuring maximum performance in your work life.
They are many business owners who truly struggle with the concept of taking time off. In fact, it’s unfortunate, but many owners feel guilty when they take time off, especially when this time off comes during the normal work week.
On the other hand, there are plenty of owners who understand the value of completely disconnecting for at least one full day at a time without any involvement with work. The folks who understand and embrace this concept typically achieve a greater work and personal life balance. Of equal importance, they tend to be far more relaxed and effective at work, often times leading to greater financial success.
Free time is an important ingredient to your recipe for business and personal success. It’s important to remember that when taking free time, be sure to give yourself and your family the whole you for the whole day, and not just a couple of uninterrupted hours. Business owners and leaders live in a pressure cooker, and because of that, they need to provide themselves with the opportunity to relieve stress and rejuvenate. If they don’t provide themselves with this opportunity, their overall effectiveness in their work and personal life will incrementally diminish over time.

Philip Mydlach is the owner of Mydlach Management Advisors, a corporate planning and performance improvement practice in Waukesha. He can be reached at (262) 662-4646 or

April 1, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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