Do your goals consume a lot of your mental and creative resources? Career and business goals often take a lot of our time and energy. If you have set these goals properly, chances are you have a lot of passion and enthusiasm for successfully achieving them. If you have a lot of control over the hours you can put into your goals, it can be easy to go a little overboard and invest most of your time and energy. Why take a break when you love what you do, right?
Bodybuilders know the importance of recovery time for building muscle mass. Weight lifting doesn’t actually build muscle mass. Lifting weights or other anaerobic activity stimulates the muscle fibers to grow. In other words, your muscles build after the weight lifting, not during it. Authors of the Body Sculpting Bible, Hugo Rivera and James Villepigue, point out that after an hour strenuous exercise the body reverts to a catabolic state which impedes muscular development. The importance of recovery is also known by athletes in many other fields. They understand that recovery and rejuvenation is critical to maintaining and improving their performance.
Just because you love what you do doesn’t mean you too aren’t susceptible to burnout, fatigue and imbalances in your life. Working constantly without rest also cuts off your creative powers which can save you far more energy and time than you could otherwise. Taking time to recover, reassess, plan and think can critically improve your performance. Recovery time is a smart investment that can improve your productivity and restore balance in your life.
Take a Day Off
I take a day off every week. During this time I don’t allow myself to do any work on my major projects, for which most of my business related goals are directed. I consider this an incredibly valuable investment, because the day off gives me time to refocus my energies and attention. Most of my creative insights have come during this recovery period and I can often save an entire week of work from an idea that comes from it.
What you consider work is up to you. Sundays are my days off, yet I am blogging here today. I don’t consider blogging to be work because I don’t have any goals that I ensure I reach with the posts I write or the traffic levels I produce. Because goal setting is the skill of allocating focus and my focus is currently on my major projects, so I don’t consider blogging to be work. If you have a lot of goals for your blog, then you might consider it work. It is all a matter of perspective.
Don’t define something as being work or not based on how much you like to do it. I love working on my project and blogging. I define my project as work simply because it consumes a fair bit of my time and I have goals that monitor its progress. If you like your job, that’s great, but it doesn’t mean you don’t need recovery time. If you hate your job you shouldn’t be working there, not just taking more vacations. Donald Trump once said, “You should love your job so much that you never want to take a vacation.” I think it should say, “You should love your job so much that you have to remind yourself to take a vacation.” Loving what you doesn’t mean you don’t need recovery time.
Once you’ve decided what you classify as work, take an entire day off from it per week. If your job makes this impossible, try taking a half day or even six hours. Any recovery period is better than nothing, but I recommend an entire day. This investment in time can yield incredible benefits increasing your productivity for the week while simultaneously allowing you to relax and enjoy life.
Time for Review
Your recovery period is the ideal time to do your weekly review. Because you have no commitment towards work, you can invest a lot more time into doing a longer and more probing weekly review. Spending at least an hour or two on your weekly review is crucial if you want to find solutions to the problems your facing.
During this period you can also review your progress on your goals for the past week. Were you productive the entire time? What obstacles and problems did you encounter? What things did you do right that you should remember for the future? By asking yourself these questions and others, you can learn a lot more from your experience in the past week. If you understand why you had low points of productivity or the mistakes you made in handling your problems you can improve upon those things in the future.
This period of time can also be used for seeing whether you are meeting up with the progress you need for your goal. Are you on track? If you aren’t on track, how can you get back on schedule? The barrage of daily events can often blind us to the big picture. Constant phone calls, interruptions or replying to e-mails can fool us into thinking we are being productive. A reassessment can allow you to see the big picture so you don’t lose sight of it during your week.
Once you have reviewed your past week you can begin planning your next. This period can give you a chance to modify and adjust your plan so it is still valid. Chances are your plan needs adjustment in the face of new ideas and opportunities. By giving you some time to rethink it, your plan can still be a valuable tool to help you decide what to do next. Without spending this time your plan is sitting useless in a binder collecting dust.
Time for Creativity
You can’t get a view of the big picture when you are using a magnifying glass. Goals act like a magnifying glass, allowing us to focus down on the immediate actions and move towards their successful completion. A side effect, however, is that in focusing down on our goals we can lose sight of the big picture and meaning to those actions. It is during this time when we get to the top of a ladder only to discover it was leaning against the wrong building.
Your recovery phase will likely be the time you are most creative. During the week almost all of your mental faculties are directed towards handling day to day tasks. When you are no longer focusing on the minutia of your work your mind seems to expand and notice a lot of opportunities and solutions that were invisible previously. Some of the ideas I gathered during this period saved me months of work and others have saved my projects from running into a dead-end. Without this recovery period I would have been unable to notice them.
This creativity often doesn’t come from analyzing your work. By getting your mind completely away from your work, your subconscious seems to go into overtime. When you arrive back at your project ideas and insights often appear out of nowhere. When you return to your house after a long trip everything seems familiar, but also bizarre in some indescribable way. This happens when we return to work after our recovery period. You begin to notice things that you hadn’t before and you seem to have a first impression all over again. These priceless creative moments easily make up for the day off in themselves.
Time for Balance
Working all the time on one or two goals is likely to lead to burnout. Giving yourself a recovery period can allow you to enjoy yourself, add some variety to your life and make you feel better about going to the work ahead. Don’t waste this time. Plan out spending it on activities you truly enjoy. Don’t squander it on watching boring television shows or on activities you don’t truly enjoy. I think this benefit of recover periods is clear to all of us. Having balance in our lives is critical if we want to have continued progress. An obsessive focus on only one area of life will collapse eventually.
If you normally spread time on your goals over all seven days, I’d suggest squeezing them into six. Working hard with time to relax more at the end is superior to an entire week where you are neither working nor relaxing. By guaranteeing yourself one day off even in extreme conditions you can ensure that your work doesn’t consume other areas of your life.
Recovery periods are essential for maintaining creativity and productivity with any demanding goal. These periods will allow you to learn more from your past and plan a better future. This period also grants creative insights that you might not see. Finally, a recovery period can allow you to increase the quality of your leisure time, stress and fatigue. Recovery is an investment whether you can only afford a few hours or an entire day. Use it wisely and reap the rewards.