Taking Time Out

03 December 2018, 09:01 am
Speciality Bites by Paul Hargreaves

In a week’s time I shall be walking along the banks of a river in India on a week’s retreat with some other UK business leaders. I know very little about the trip except that a friend has highly recommended it and my marketing manager and wife were united in thinking it would be good for me. Could be they both want me out of the way in the run-up to Christmas!

It sounds like there will be very little access to the outside world, so I will miss both the key moments of “I’m a celebrity” and the Brexit Vote – the difference between those two votes being one has a winner and the other not.

In fact, I am not too bad at taking time out, better than most business leaders I know, and I have written frequently on the importance of doing this both for yourself and letting your teams take more responsibility. However, this trip sounds like it is on a different level with the conditions described as “deliberately austere” in the brief packing list I have received. I will let you know how it goes. But at this ridiculously busy time of year it is good to gain some perspective and go into a New Year with some vision rather than manic activity.

Too many of us keep our heads down and are run by task lists and feel a sense of satisfaction when we have reduced our list at the end of the week to a handful of ‘to do’ items. The only problem is that the list has a habit of growing larger by Monday afternoon each week. Too many of us are trapped in the mundane tasks we do every week, series of external meetings, measuring KPIs and seeing our direct reports. If we are not careful months and years can slip by without us taking a step back and thinking about what we are doing and being open to a change of direction. Sometimes are not only not thinking outside the box but stuck inside it.

Many of us will have time-off work during the Christmas and New Year period, and many food businesses completely shut down for several days or a week or more. If your Christmas’s are anything like mine though, often the constant round of visiting family and more distant relatives can be more draining than time at work. If you have young children, then multiply the stress and excitement levels 5-fold at least. It would be a shame during this extended holiday before 2019 if you didn’t spend at least a day or two reflecting on whether you are really doing what you want to be doing in life. Maybe leave your phones at home and go for a long walk on your own or with your partner and gain some perspective. Jump out of the box and bring some more creativity into your life and work and business. Life can be tough, but it is also meant to be an adventure. Some of us can miss out on this unless we switch off from activity and calm down our minds. Why don’t you plan now to do it at some point over this festive season.

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