How Taking Time Off Can Raise Your Productivity

Back in my Weyerhaeuser days, I’d participate in blood drives and give back some of my very positive B+ blood. One time, I finished giving my pint, grabbed a box of Orange Juice and headed back to my desk. No need to sit for a few minutes. No, just head back to my desk and power through another 10-hour day.

Working until 10pm Friday nights was fine because it meant I could stay home with my family on Saturday. Sundays were always days of rest and worship for me. Every other day was long and filled with the pressures of being a senior manager at a very junior age. Or the joys of being Dad to my four daughters.

Working holidays was a drag and lead to some burnout. What good are bank holidays if you have to work them? Yet, these days were very productive because most employees did not work holidays. That’s one of the perks of working at a bank.

When I was a newbie staff accountant with no real world experience I worked lots of unpaid overtime because I wanted to learn as much as I could. Yet this built habits that have lasted for over thirty years.

I am trying to implement something I learned from the great Dan Sullivan. He has coached entrepreneur for decades. In the beginning they all work too many hours are stressed out because there is so much to get done. Dan teaches them to divide their days in 3 categories: Free days, Buffer days and Focus days.

You can read about this strategy in this Forbes article, The Secret to Increased Productivity: Taking Time Off.

Dan Sullivan, co-founder of Toronto-based Strategic Coach and co-author of The Laws of Lifetime Growth, says it’s this mentality that keeps entrepreneurs exhausted, stuck and reaping a fraction of potential profits. He has built a multimillion-dollar coaching business in part by advising entrepreneurs to do the last thing in the world they would ever think to do: take time off. His anthem is that productivity and performance start with free time, which he argues is the fuel for the energy, creativity and focus that lead to success.

“It’s not the amount of time you spend working each day,” Sullivan says. “Entrepreneurs get paid through problem-solving and creativity. You can create a solution in a shorter period of time if you are rested and rejuvenated.”

Knowing this and doing this are two different things. On many of my “free days” in 2018 I wrote my book, Marketing Survival Guide. Should I have played golf instead?

Let’s keep reading about a better way.

It can take a serious pounding for entrepreneurs to admit they can’t do it all, shouldn’t do it all and, indeed, are going to flame out if they keep trying to do it all. Sullivan’s clients often turn to him after a crisis–a marriage falls apart, they’re drained by burnout. Sullivan teaches them that the very activity they thought was necessary for success–putting in extremely long hours–was likely the obstacle to it.

In his program, entrepreneurs create a new calendar in which their weeks are broken down into “free days,” when no work or checking in to e-mail or the office is allowed; “buffer days,” for planning and preparation; and “focus days,” for high-value, goal-oriented practices. It can be shock treatment for folks who haven’t had a day off in months or a vacation in years.

But after learning how to delegate, focus on what they do best and use free time to sharpen energy and clarity, Sullivan’s clients may wind up taking a month or more off a year.

“By getting away from work and letting the mind get involved in thinking, hobbies and rejuvenation, you come back to the job and produce results faster,” Sullivan explains.

Thinking is one of the crucial benefits of stepping back. Just as quality time off fuels energetic resources on the job, reflective time is critical to producing solutions and creative breakthroughs.

You can read the rest of the article here:

Here’s a simple goal of mine: Take a two week vacation each year. Away from work. When I do this, it’s wonderful. We’ll see about 2019….