Gail outlined a three-step process for rejuvenation: rest, reflect and explore. Her personal example illustrated how it worked and I found myself rereading the steps and nodding in agreement.
At the time, I failed to notice that it was midnight on Saturday night after I completed a work task. Something was wrong with this picture. My actions were not aligned with my thinking; I hadn't taken a break in two months and I definitely was not rejuvenated.
I know that taking breaks and making time for reflection improves my effectiveness and quality of work. So, why am I not doing these things? Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton wrote a book in the late 90s called "The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action". It explores why companies don't act on what they know. The same principle applies to individuals. I have not been doing what I know is in my best interest.
My default behaviour is to keep working until tasks are completed, even when my resources are low. Why do I do it? Like most people going through change, old habits are familiar and comfortable. A past manager had a phrase that described my working style: "Line them up and knock them down." As long as there is something to line up I will keep knocking them down, even when my productivity is low.
It's time to make a change. Here is my plan for breaking this unproductive habit:
- Make a list each night of non-work activities I will complete on breaks during the following day (I am a list person)
- Visually display this list beside my priority activities list (visual reminders are powerful)
- Review my progress nightly (and make notes as I do after my runs)
- Ask a friend to check in on my progress (I know I will never have "nothing to report")
- Reward the desired behaviour (schedule guilt-free play time to spend with family and friends)
My actions must become aligned with my beliefs or I will not maximize my potential. This is my main benefit. Also, now have my own personal example of "rest, reflect and explore".