A few weeks ago, I traveled on a Monday to a client meeting in Dallas. Knowing that I was going to be out of the office for 2 days, I took some time on the Sunday before I left to get some things done so that I could leave with a “clean slate”. I only worked for about an hour, knowing I would have time the next morning to finish up before leaving for the airport at 11:00. On that Monday, I got up, got to it and found myself completely finished by 10:00 am. “Wow,” I thought, “…what am I going to do now? I’ve got an hour to kill.”
So, I relaxed. I spent some unexpected time with my wife. I called a friend who needed some encouragement. I sent a text to my daughter. I got caught up on Major League Baseball News. I sat for 15 minutes doing nothing. And when 11:00 rolled around, I was feeling noticeably calmer.
On the way to the airport, I contemplated. I wondered why, at 10:00, my first reaction was a feeling of guilt because I wasn’t using the hour to be “more productive”. But I got over that pretty quickly. Then I began thinking of my clients and colleagues, sooo many of them who would have used that one hour to squeeze out every last ounce of productivity. And that got me wondering, “Don’t we know how to rest anymore?”
You don’t have to do an exhaustive study to answer that question (although many have indeed been done). I read somewhere recently that “busy” is the new “fine”, as in this all too common exchange…
“Hello, how are you?”
“I’m soooo busy!”
“Well, that’s nice.”
We work, schedule, create, respond, meet, initiate all week long at breakneck pace. We have tools that let us do so at never seen before speeds. We talk ourselves into believing it’s normal to live like this. And at the end of another crazed week, we “crash” in an attempt to get some rest for the following week. But crashing isn’t resting. Crashing is just stopping long enough to keep yourself from going insane. It’s just slowing the car down long enough so that it doesn’t overheat. That’s not resting.
Rest is recharging. It’s rejuvenation. Resting is cathartic. It’s cleansing. It brings back excitement, clarity, focus. Rest brings connection, rebirth, renewal.
So, how does one rest? Well, I’m not sure resting is the same for everyone. The key is to find what recharges you. Whatever you do in your rest, make sure it’s something that you enjoy, something that you look forward to. It should recharge you. For some, a walk around the block does the trick; for others, a power nap. Rest should not take extended effort. Keep from creating or initiating when you rest. A walk in the woods. A drive up the coast. Dinner with good friends. Reading a book. Whatever it is, as you think about it, if it makes you go “ahhhhh”, then it probably is rest that recharges.
Still thinking you can’t get there? I challenge you then. Plan your rest. Get out your calendar and schedule times for….
- Daily rest: Take three to four 10 minute rest breaks throughout your day. Don’t waste those breaks watching YouTube videos or answering emails. Get up. Walk around. Stare out a window. Do something to recharge.
- Weekly rest: Pick one day each week to be your day of rest. On that day, follow the guidelines mentioned above. Make this a 24 hour period. No work, just rest.
- Quarterly rest: Every three months, take a 1-2 day rest. Go away. Shut off the phone, email, and computer. Go on retreat. Do something fun, something that will bring you back.
- Annual rest: More than 70% of Americans leave unused vacation time on the table. That’s pathetic. NO ONE is THAT important that they can’t break way. So do it. One week minimum. Get off the grid, get with people you love, get to somewhere that will help you rejuvenate.
Busy is overrated. Rest is underutilized. Let’s reverse the trend.