Three Top Tips for Terrific Time Outs


Three Top Tips for Terrific Time Outs

Have you ever had the experience of taking a few days break and suddenly being struck with exciting ideas and solutions for your Small Business? Paradoxically your brain will start solving the unsolvable just when you are trying to switch off.  You might find yourself looking at a jaw dropping view and becoming inspired about a product, partnership or positioning move that has eluded you for some time.

Breaks are a rare and precious commodity for Small Business owners so this can be frustrating. It can also upset family, friends and especially our children who may not have had our full attention for some time. The temptation can be to head straight back into ‘work mode’ and break your break.

Why would we get these blinding flashes of genius right when we are supposed to be switching off like a ‘normal’ non-business owner?

Neuroscience offers us an explanation for this.

In general terms if we have not had a break for some time we draw on our adrenal system pretty hard to be able to cope with long hours, deadlines, general fatigue and overwhelm and this compounds our stress levels. Our stress can either peak sporadically but with increasing frequency or remain elevated over extended periods of time.

When in this stressed space we move further away from our frontal cortex into our mid-brain slowly become less creative, less flexible, poorer problem solvers and making more mistakes.

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The further into our midbrain the more we see the stress response escalate. Generally speaking the further into our midbrain and away from our frontal cortex the less capable we are to resolve problems and control our emotional state.

However, during these times we are still trying hard to solve problems. Just because our mind has become too fatigued to recognise solutions does not mean that the RAS (Reticular Activation System which is responsible for finding what ever it is we direct it to find) stops looking for solutions to our seemingly unsolvable problems.

The brain will continue to work on finding solutions even whilst we are too mentally fatigued to recognise them.

Then, we go on a break. Generally we relax and our stress levels go down. We start to operate more from our frontal cortex which is connected to our creativity, imagination, problem solving, communication and unique situation analysis.

Suddenly BINGO our RAS which has been operating on our behalf in the background all this time suddenly hits pay dirt and we have a Eureka moment of inspiration.

The million dollar question is how to maximise the potential for this kind of clarity and still get a break?

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Here are three top tips for terrific time outs:

1. Break more often

Mini breaks can be very reviving and stop you from getting too rundown allowing creativity and problem solving to flow better.  You don’t have to go away as such. Walk around the block or run up and down the stairs to decrease stress. Meditate, sleep, take a longer lunch or watch a funny movie to break your state.

2. Take notes

If you happen to be away and have an Einstein moment record it right there and then in as much detail as possible then get back to your break. Sometimes voice recording it on your phone is a speedy solution to capturing your idea.

If you have small children I recommend a ‘code word’ that you shout out when you have a great idea. Get their prior permission so that when you use this word they forgive you for interrupting their holiday and it is viewed as a celebration; not them being less important than your work.

3. Put aside some time and stick to it – be disciplined

Make agreements with your travelling companions that for X amount of time each day, for example fifteen mins as soon as you wake up or the thirty minutes you take to walk in the morning will be the time you attend to your breakthrough thinking.

Don’t be a SCHMUCK and break your agreements no matter how tempting or you might start to feel the cold shoulder of unhappy companionship.

The more we practice being able to grab our thoughts and nail them down the more our RAS will present them to us in this way. We have asked it for solutions and it will find them in the most unlikely places, especially those places that help us relax and switch off. Now go and book your next break. It could just be the making of your business.

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  • Rosemary

    Even a morning walk can do the magic of a great holiday, in short form. Your explanation makes sense, and I have experienced this time after time. Thanks for the info – it makes sense.

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