If you’re an entrepreneur it’s simple, get up, get outside and go for a walk, go to the gym, play a game, spend time with your kids. Getting your mind off a task while doing something else is always the easiest way to regain some energy. I mean how many times have so many of us lost something (anything) then spent almost 10 minutes (or more) searching for them before deciding to just go ahead and do something else. Then 5 or 10 seconds pass while you are doing something else and seemingly by magic your brain all of a sudden becomes clear, you retrace all of your steps and BOOM there are the keys, the tickets to the show, or whatever else you might have been looking for. The power of distraction is quite useful and often quite underutilized. If you think real hard I know that you can think of many times when distractions have been very useful in your life.
So what happens when we are at work and we just don’t seem to be getting any work done? What happens when we lose our inspiration to move forward? Why do we all treat work like it is different? We have to get things done, even if we are drained, we have to clock in and clock out.
I won’t pretend to have the answer to everyone’s situation about their relationship with time and losing energy at work but what I do know about all of this is that for me I have developed a whole lot of respect for someone like Stefan Sagmeister. Stefan is someone who I think has figured “it” out.
How many of you are counting down the days until retirement? Well Stefan (and me by association) would say what the heck are you waiting for? Retire today. Retire again in 7 years. Then repeat that until you are ready to retire forever. Stefan has discovered the greatest distraction of all-an entire year free of work away from all things. Stefan’s argument (and yes I know he is self employed and obviously doing well for himself so it might be easier to say for him but I agree with the premise) is that if we could just step away for a while then our batteries will be refreshed. His case is specific to design in that he says his designs begin to merge together after 7 years of constant work (of course this happens without him even knowing). He noted that when his designs got too similar that it was time for him to simply shut down the shop and walk away. He needed to walk away for his brain to percolate, to grow new ideas, to become fresh once again. Watch what else he has to say about how we work and energize ourselves:
We are trained our whole lives to value time, that time is the most precious thing any of us have. Being on time is important, getting things done is important. But if time is really important to us then we must not ever forget that we are owed time as well. Time can be your friend or time can be your enemy.
How do you treat time? How does your work treat time? Is this a discussion we need to have more vigorously with those that we work with and those we work for?