Beware the “Fake Break”

Posted by
Mike Lyon
Date
 December 17, 2015
Comments
2 comments

In his book, “Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives”, author Richard Swenson points out that 20th century futurists expected  long before now that we’d be struggling with finding ways to spend the leisure time created by advances in technology. In the early 1930s, John Maynard Keynes forecasted there would come a time “when the world produces all the goods that it needs in two days.” He then stated, “We must turn our attention to the great problem of what to do with our leisure.”

In 1967, a Senate subcommittee hearing  received testimony estimating by 1985 we would have reduced our workload to a 22-hour week, and just 27 weeks a year.

If only….                                                                                

Swenson commented, “No one sits around today trying to figure out how to spend their free time, On the contrary, the topic of conversation is usually how to get some. Virtually everyone I know is time desperate.”

We’re living in an on-demand world. Everything we need is in the palm of our hands—well, at least, the ability to access all those wonderful things.

On the other side of the “on-demand” fact of life are people who seem to be perpetually on call. As an Online Sales Specialist, you need to be in contact with your customers, prospects, and team members. You work 24/7, taking calls and replying to emails and texts. You can’t let two hours slip by without an inquiry being addressed.

So, how do you take a break when you need it? Trust me, no matter how important you are, time off is absolutely critical to staying on top of your game. Taking a break allows you to recharge your batteries, cleanse your mind, and step out of the demanding routine. You can only discover fresh perspective on your work when you allow yourself to step away.

I see and work with many who feel they simply can’t take time off. In truth, it’s not that they “can’t”, but maybe they haven’t invested the time and energy in establishing the essential back-up systems that will allow them to enjoy a much-needed escape. As a result, even though they try to step away for an hour, a day or a week… they are still glued to their phones, checking messages and emails, and making follow-up calls that will “just take a minute”. This is what we call a “fake break”. And it’s unsustainable

Stop making excuses, and start making time. Here’s how.

  1. Train a back-up. Every successful team has a deep roster to fill in when the star players are out. They recognize that they can’t forfeit games because the inevitable happened. Find a capable back-up person to handle your leads while away. You’ll probably never find someone as good as you. That’s OK. You need someone to manage the immediate and do the best they can.

Take the time to train someone who can handle your inbound calls, messages, and any tasks that need to be completed while you’re away. The return on that time investment is the peace of mind you’ll enjoy, knowing you can take a break and your work is in capable hands.

  1. Strip out the non-essential dings and dongs. Keep your phone from blowing up while you’re taking time off. Even if it is just a few hours on a Sunday. Only about 10 percent of that communication comes from new leads that require immediate attention. Do you really need a buzz and beep for every email coming into your inbox/phone? Let me answer that for you – NO! Set up a VIP alert on your phone so you’re only getting notifications from new leads and phone calls. Everything else can wait 5-10 minutes until you check your inbox again.  

When you stop mentally questioning every buzz to ask, “do I need to do something with this” you create that subconscious margin you need.

Make sure you have a call tracking number you can forward when you need too. Usually those calls are the hardest to ignore.

  1. Create a daily buffer. When you set unrealistic daily goals, you are forever struggling to meet them, and often falling farther and farther behind. You try to cram ten hours worth of work into eight, and you can never finish! This widening gap between what you’ve done and what you still need to accomplish feeds your belief that you can’t possibly get away. You race the clock, day after day. No one excels under that strain. It just wears you down.

You can correct this problem by inserting a buffer into your daily schedule. Be reasonable about the tasks you can realistically complete in a day. Your day involves many “planned” interruptions. When you get a new lead or call, you have to drop everything and respond. You know that there will be unexpected calls that prompt unanticipated action on your part. So create a little extra space every day so you don’t feel like you are drowning.

Many people I work with are wired to “work a lot”. That’s fine, I’m wired the same way. But you need to want to work, not feel like you HAVE to work all the time.

There is a great tweet from Simon Senek,

The only obstacle to enjoying a little time off is you. You need to give yourself permission to stop working. When you have a process in place to handle your absence, you get the margin you so need.

  • Michael Davidson

    Just getting into the meat of “The Sweet Spot – How to find your groove at home and work” by Christine Carter, Phd. Would highly recommend as a follow up, Mike. Great article great timing. Thanks.

    • This one is going on the list. Thanks Michael!