Overworked business owners: Should you be taking time off from work & switching to flight mode?

Article by Jason Croston


2018 has been big for me. Both personally and in business.  I’m thinking that it’s high time I took a break.

And you?

As we approach holiday season again, should you be taking time off from work and switching your life to “flight mode” for a few weeks?

Why does this year seem more exhausting than previous years?

This year was my twentieth with SRJ Walker Wayland. And the rapid rate of change is at a higher level than I can ever recall.

With constantly developing technology, you need to be at the top of your game to be able to consistently adapt and perform at your best.

Decisions need to be made quickly. Change fatigue is a real risk to business owners as you navigate the many challenges you face.

But it has been a great year overall. Whilst I have challenges and stresses from time to time like anyone, I have also had many great experiences.

Lessons from running (no, not running a business but out there on the road!)

I’ve been an avid runner for the past seven years or so. After going through a number of training plans, I’ve come to realise that having your foot flat on the accelerator all of the time is not the best way to reach peak performance.

In fact, it’s likely to hinder your ability to be at your best and leads to injury.

The magic happens during recovery, after periods of stress and stretching your body beyond its current potential – not while your body is under constant stress.

After completing an event, the recovery period may need to be one to two weeks or so. Then you need to build back up to another training period.

Taking time off work: just as important as rest after a run

The same concept applies to business life. But, rather than the physical body, it’s the brain and work performance that need adequate recovery time.

I’ve never really been too impressed with anyone who boasts how many hours per week they work.  In my view, if it’s true, it’s a sure way to crash and burn and unlikely to result in a strong and consistent business performance.

For many, it isn’t really true though. It’s almost impossible to consistently work at a high level for a hundred hours each week.

Whether it is running a race or running a business, I’ve always believed in chipping away consistently with incremental improvements over time. A key part of this is making sure that there are adequate breaks from work to allow for longer-term sustained effort.

In day-to-day life, apart from running, meditation, and journal-writing as methods of freeing up my mind, I consistently move away from my desk for a lunch break rather than eating at my desk.

Sure, there have been times where there has been no choice but I am definitely more productive after an actual lunch break. Even better if I walk outside to get some fresh air for 15 minutes. I’m definitely ready to go again then.

Really taking time off work means going into “flight mode”

I’m just about to take a recovery break of six weeks in December and January. That’s my longest break from business in 14 years.

Usually, I go on vacations in “maintenance mode”, keeping one eye on my emails and notifications to make sure that everything is under control.

I’ve come to realise that that’s not a real break. If anything, it annoys my family when I should be giving them my full attention.

So why not switch to “flight mode”?  Even if it is for a couple of days or a week at a time?

That’s quite a scary prospect for me – and probably for you. You may be thinking:

  • “How could I be completely disconnected from my business for an extended period of time?”
  • “What if something goes wrong?”
  • “The team’s going to need me!”

But being disconnected completely is absolutely essential for rest and recovery, and to sustain a high level of performance for your business.

It’s also a real test of your leadership.  You really should have the confidence to be offline for a period of time and expect your people to handle whatever comes up. Maybe not in the same way that you would handle it but handled it all the same.

If not, then something needs to change.

While I’m taking time off from work, I’m sure that my team will handle things. And I’ll come back fresh and ready to perform at my best for 2019.

How about you? Are you ready to switch to flight mode?