The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Member Blog: The Importance of Taking Time Out

By Frances Taylor - Director at Sprout, The Personal Development Company (UK) Ltd

Last weekend I woke up to a bright snowy morning, prised my other half out from under the duvet and went for a long tramp over the Derbyshire moors.  Not a remarkable event you might think.

But midway through the week, I am still feeling the benefits of our eight mile tramp.

We had to apply ourselves on this walk. Navigation over the rough moorland tracks takes care. There are numerous gullies running off the high plateau, cutting deep, stony gorges through the peat, and it's easy to mistake one for another and end up completely lost. Then there was the snow and low cloud, erasing landmarks and reducing visibility to a few feet.

We'd never walked this path before and there was something hugely exciting and satisfying about it. An adventure. A personal challenge. Just us and the bleak wintry landscape.
It was a real time out. Refreshing. Different. Fun. And I'm still noticing the benefits today.

When was the last time you took time out?

When did you last spend a day doing something out of your normal routine? Away from work and home activities, away from visiting your usual haunts? Maybe a morning doing something just for you, or even an hour? Or maybe, if you are lucky (or rather, if you take your wellbeing seriously) you've taken yourself off for a weekend?

If you can't remember the last time and you're feeling bored or stuck or just fatigued then it will be useful for you to know that.

Time out improves your performance and wellbeing.

We are not designed on a physical or emotional level, to stay in the same gear 24/7. The body likes homeostasis- balance- where after a period of stress, intense focus or activity, there is rest and recuperation.  This way you avoid exhaustion, stagnation, loss of perspective and even burn out.

Time out doesn’t just relax you; it improves your ability to THINK!

Convincing research demonstrates that time out improves cognitive function - bringing greater agility and flexibility to your thinking, fuelling creativity and widening perspectives.  It also enhances your memory and ability to make sound judgements. A recent article in the New York Times neatly calls this process strategic renewal.

Major corporates have got the message. Deloitte offers a sabbatical programme to pursue personal or professional growth. And Google has introduced cosy sleep pods for staff to take a daytime nap.
Even if your company can’t offer such benefits, there is plenty that you can do yourself.

How to have time out every day

Time out needs to be part of your everyday life. It can be a moment, a few minutes, a lunch time or a longer experience. Try one or more of the following:

a 10 minute power walk outside
run or walk briskly up and down stairs for 5 minutes
5 minutes listening to a favourite piece of music
10 minutes learning something new and completely unrelated to your work: for example, how to order a beer in Greek or tie a useful knot
a visit to an art gallery for 30 minutes over lunch
enjoy the silence of a local church

These suggestions provide daily refreshment but they are not enough.

You also need regular more extended times to fully replenish your reserves. If you'd like to learn new ways to do this and improve your performance and wellbeing, join us in Manchester on 27 March for a day of inspiration, learning and fun. Click here for details.

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