Opening your laptop every morning and taking a sip from the same coffee mug? Feel like something isn’t quite right? It can be tough to work out what exactly the problem is when you’re going through the same motions day in, day out, which is why it can be healthy to step away from your workday.
Sometimes it’s obvious that a turning point is necessary. Perhaps the business isn’t accelerating quickly enough, or breaking into new regions isn’t happening. Either way, there’s only so much staring at the screen you can take before breaking point looms.
Ideally, close the laptop and book a flight to somewhere remote. Spending time burying toes in the sand or swimming endless laps in a hotel pool can be meditative. Stepping away from the mundanity of daily life, be that cleaning, the commute, or cooking, will allow time for reflection. Money doesn’t grow on trees, so if a hotel pool is out of the question, why not ask good friends or your parents if they’ll put you up for a week for some thinking-space.
Howard Lewis, founder of OFFLINE, a disruptive networking experience running for nearly a decade, says inspiration for his business came about after taking time out. "Most entrepreneurs do not have the luxury of taking a period of time off to reassess where they or their business may stand but there are some effective strategies to do so in bite size chunks. One I particularly recommend is to hang out at a museum. You may learn much from the art on the wall but, equally, the response of other people to it.
"You can wander round without a plan of action, observing, contemplating, listening, according to your whim. A museum offers you room to breathe and a different view of the world. It will help to calibrate your thought process as you seek greater clarity into the challenges posed by your commercial activities."
Cliff Walker, a network marketing entrepreneur finds his space in a 45 minute walk each morning. "This means not necessarily listening to music, not looking at the phone, responding to anything, simply walking and keeping pace. Every single time I come back to my office with at least one new idea and a fresh perspective. Nothing clears the mind quite like this."
Lewis explains how taking time to leave your comfort zone is important once in a while. "Curiosity is a much underrated quality but those in leadership roles should embrace it. A three day business trip should, if at all possible, include an hour or two at a gallery or, frankly, a zoo. Open your eyes and ears and start living an offline life too."
Nicki Cresswell, wellbeing coordinator at CABA explains that spending too much time at work can certainly be unproductive. "Excess overtime can be counterproductive, compromising your mental health and ultimately leading to burnout. A study conducted by University College London and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health found that working overtime can double your chances of developing depression. As a small business owner, this is not a position you want to be in, both for the sake of your health and for your business. Exercise relieves tension, releasing feel-good endorphins. If you’re less stressed, you may have more energy for fun activities outside of work."
Using space and time to figure out the best way to move your business on or reach a turnaround point is crucial. Without space, it’s so easy to experience burnout. Barnaby Lashbrooke, founder of virtual assistant platform Time etc, comments: "Every three months, I take a short break from work, blocking out two or three days for a period of contemplation, and to recharge. I had been suffering from burnout for a long time. It was masked by bursts of energy and passion, and then one day I'd wake up drained and think that I couldn't go on. The lows gradually lasted longer each time, until they stretched to six months. To overcome this I decided I would approach my work in three-month blocks which seems far more manageable than working in years. I now use that short break at the end of each quarter to consider what I want to get done in the next three months and to look back at what worked and what didn't in the previous quarter."
Getting out of your comfort zone is vital when trying to come up with an idea that could transform your business. Whether that’s by going on holiday, heading to a museum, or simply taking a day off each month to watch films, there’s evidence that such a break can clear your head and yield the perfect turnaround moment.