The importance of taking a break

When you run a marathon you take gels with you to keep your energy going because, clearly whilst running for us normal folk for 4 – 5 hours you are going to need to top up your reserves.

There is a top trick to sustain your performance through out the course, and that’s to start replenishing your reserves i.e. start taking your gels at about 60 minutes – which is well before you are starting to feel it needs to. Because there will be a time lag in between your body needing replenishment and it telling you that. So by taking the gels before you need to you don’t drop below performance whilst waiting for the next gel to kick in – you need to stay replenished. Well, as replenished as you can be whilst running 26.2 miles – to maximize, indeed optimise, your performance.

And clearly running a business is a bit like running a marathon – in fact I am 23 miles into mine if a mile was a year! And it can certainly feel like it. You start full of the joys of spring, in your first few miles then at half way you are thinking what the hell am I doing, then at mile18-21 you hit the wall and then you can see the finish line and your sprint towards it victorious – ooh I am loving that analogy.

When we talk about needing to top up our reserves in business, it’s all about looking after your energy levels, health and well being. And I’m particularly talking about taking breaks. As I write, this for the first time in probably 20 years I haven’t had a holiday in over 5 months. Now that may not seem like long but when you run at the speed I do it is very important to take breaks so I am fresh.

And you need to take breaks before you need them – just like taking gels in your marathon – and there is only one way you can do this – by putting the breaks into your year before the year gets away with you. Because what do you know? It is now May and I have not had a break since Xmas, I am exhausted, and now my performance is subpar.

Take it from me – please please please look at the rest of your year and every 12 weeks make sure you take a week off. It will make you perform better in between times, it will make you work harder in 12 week sections and it will stop you dropping in performance because your energy supplies have run out. Every 12 weeks may seem excessive to some of you but you need to stay really fresh – so replenish BEFORE you feel it to maintain great productivity levels.

Same goes obviously for breaks throughout your day – I pencil in 3 small breaks – 15 minutes of yoga in the morning, 15 minutes gentle exercise at lunch and 15 minutes relaxation in the afternoon. And sometimes it’s a bloody irritation when the alarm goes off to say yoga time – but if I don’t take those breaks my performance dips – so I need to replenish before I need to.

I hope this is useful. Now go and book that holiday. Speak soon.