As Thoreau tells us, “It is not enough to be busy…the question is: What are we busy about?” Lately we have been busy on our clients’ most active season leading up to the end of the year when sales outcomes can make or break their goals for the next year. For our health insurance clients locked in the middle of their Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), October through December is game time. Not really fun “game time”, more keep your nose to the grindstone and get the job done time.
While we all love accomplishing tasks, sometimes crossing items off of our Basecamp list becomes too much of the focus. If you are anything like us, you even add completed to-dos just to get the satisfaction of crossing them off.
Studies continue to suggest that it is not good to be busy all the time. In fact, it’s bad: “Constant stimulation is registered by our brains as unimportant, to the point that the brain erases it from our awareness,” said University of Illinois psychology professor Alejandro Lleras who led a study on how taking mental breaks improves performance in the long run.
Athletes live by this rule. Any coach worth their weight will tell you that recovery time is invaluable for performance. So why is it that businesses still value busy above break time?
We’re intent on breaking this trend at SBR.
Not All Breaks Are Created Equal
It turns out that what we do during our downtime is just as important if we want those breaks to have a meaningful impact on performance. Exercise, meditation and naps have all been shown to produce optimal outcomes.
Researchers studying brains through fMRI scans confirm that the areas associated with problem-solving are actually highly active when we are daydreaming. This was once a shocker to us because we believed that only rigorous, focused attention led to results. But after years of working on simplifying complexity, we have seen some of our brainiest innovations come about during non-work time.
Sharon, our fearless founder and leader, believes some of her best ideas come in the shower. In fact, it was in this very locale that she came up with an idea to extend the call center hours until midnight (while our client’s competitors were closed) to maximize on a condensed shopping period. This was a simple, albeit profitable, concept that helped one client significantly increase membership.
Whenever we feel stuck we immediately try to switch venues or activities. In the adjacent picture you can see Sharon enjoying a game of Shuffleboard, a perfect diversion during the workday.
Taking breaks and doing something relaxing has undoubtedly improved our happiness at work.
SBR’s Break List
In our office, we have a growing list of possible breaks to get a mental reboot. So without further adieu, here is our list of short-but-sweet breaks that you can enjoy too…
- Take a walk at Todd’s Point (lucky us, our office is near the water)
- The office coloring books always need some attention!
- Grab a coffee and a magazine at Espresso Neat
- Whip out the yoga mat or head over to Kaia Yoga, our neighborhood studio
- Plug in your headphones and head over to the SBR Soundtrack on Spotify
- When in doubt, step away from the computer and catch up with your co-workers (they’re pretty cool people)!