What needs to change in our culture to fix the workaholic mentality that seems to have taken over? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Society has made us feel guilty for taking time off, so much so that we wear a badge of honor for working the most hours of anyone else on the team. Think about the standard company handbook, where you earn vacation as a reward after a year of service. When it comes time to take it, there often seems to be so much work to do that it is not worth it to take the time off.
This general attitude toward the importance of work and the unimportance of rest and recovery has led to the workaholic mentality that is common in our world today.
I have found in my own life, and in working with and observing other executives, that it is imperative to take time for regular personal renewal before we can be effective in our businesses. Perhaps as a result of personal beliefs or societal dogma we think personal renewal is only for those who deserve it - an award for achievement. The rest of us who are undeserving wear the hours worked as a badge of honor, boasting that we work 70 or 80 hours per week.
Declare Time for Rejuvenation
In order to fix the workaholic mentality and prevent burnout, we need to declare time for rejuvenation. We have to fight against the part of our work ethic that tells us time off equals "slacker," when it simply is not true. Research shows that downtime replenishes the brain's stores of attention and motivation, enhances productivity and creativity, and is essential to achieve our highest levels of performance.
Those in leadership positions face many forces that compete for our time and energy. It is easy to fall into the trap of overworking to the point of exhaustion, and rarely taking time for our own renewal.
As a busy executive, I have decisively and purposefully incorporated recovery time into my schedule. One of my habits at the beginning of each calendar year is to schedule blocks of time for the entire year. I may from time to time need to adjust dates, but when I take away a scheduled renewal time in my calendar, I simply move it to another date versus allowing myself to delete it.
Rejuvenation is Key to Effective Leadership
What if instead of looking at time for your own personal rejuvenation as a reward for certain work accomplished, you saw this as a key ingredient to effective leadership, and the path to achieving significant improvement and results in your business?
Taking the time for rejuvenation is key to effective leadership. We set the example for those around us. Certainly, we want to bring our best selves to work. When we are fresh and operating with peak energy, we create a positive environment for our teams where they too can flourish. We approach work with renewed vigor and creativity. Others see a renewed passion - it is electric and contagious. Imagine the ripple effects we could have on our teams when we showed up in this way. Imagine what things could be accomplished if others followed our new example - improved results, increased morale, even fun at work!
Here is my challenge to you:
Schedule periodic and consistent breaks from your work - real breaks. This means literally unplugging from your work for a period of time. If this sounds impossible, start with a short period of time - even just a couple of hours - and work your way up.
You will be amazed at the difference in yourself. Making this choice also allows your team to step up and empowers them to perform.
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