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Go Ahead, Take That Break

| August 30, 2011

by Jim Bruce

Today’s Reading, “Go Ahead, Take That Break, comes from Whitney Johnson’s HBR Blog.  Johnson is a founding partner of Rose Park Advisors (Clayton M. Christensen’s investment firm), and is author of the forthcoming book “Done-Dream-Do:  Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream.”

Many studies have shown how important rest is to the human brain.  Yet, work, better, life, is busier and more demanding everyday.  Current neuroscience research has shown that the brain needs to fully disengage and relax after focusing intently on a problem.  Brian Eno, English composer, musician, and record producer, puts it this way:  “The difficulty of always feeling that you ought to be doing something is that you tend to undervalue the times when you are apparently doing nothing, and these are important times.  It’s the time when things get sorted out.  If you are constantly awake work-wise you don’t allow that to happen.”  John Cleese, English actor, writer, and film producer says it this way:  “If you are racing around all day, ticking off lists, looking at your watch, making phone calls, and generally just keeping balls in the air, you are not going to have any creative ideas.”

When we do nothing – take a walk, a long shower, sit outside and enjoy nature’s beauty, take an unscheduled nap, …, we defy the “always on” mindset.  By doing nothing, we give rest to our brain which in turn reinvigorates life and work and allows us to get things done.

And, when we take some real down-time, without technology or a to-do list directing our every moment, we give our staff permission to do the same thing.  And, that’s a good thing!

Johnson ends her piece:  “What we think and do today makes meaning of what we did yesterday.  Learn to lie dormant.  Listen to your cadence of rest.  Take a break.  Only after a break can you have a breakthrough.”

Be intentional.  Take regular breaks to reinvigorate your body and your brain.


.  .  .  .   jim