reFresh your mind; reFresh your productivity

by
Justin Waldrop
Published:
July 11, 2022

Society often glorifies the concept of working hard. But too much work without balance and rest takes a heavy toll in the form of stress and fatigue, which actually decreases productivity.

Taking time to “reFresh” is crucial for maximizing your cognitive function and productivity. 

The restorative benefits of breaks and vacations

The beneficial effects of vacations have been well-documented

  • Reducing emotional exhaustion and burnout
  • Decreasing absenteeism
  • Increasing work engagement
  • Improving health, well-being, life satisfaction and quality of life

And between vacations, taking regular breaks increases our ability to focus and improves our well-being. Detachment from work -  “the right to disconnect”-  is essential in achieving restorative benefits. 

So why don’t we prioritize breaks?

Many of us think taking breaks will reduce our productivity. Below are some reasons people resist taking breaks and vacations.

1. Struggling to trust their teams to get the work done

2. Fear of being seen as replaceable - job security

3. Company culture discourages vacation

4. Inability to disconnect

5. Stockpiling vacation days to another time

6. Determination to advance in the workplace

7. Fear of returning to a mountain of work

So, while the possible motivations are numerous, failing to prioritize a reFresh will lead to more stress, and eventually burnout.

The “right to disconnect” could soon be law

Canada’s federal government is exploring a law that gives workers a “right to disconnect.” 

A Right to Disconnect Advisory Committee provided recommendations on supporting federally regulated workers’ “right to disconnect.” The final report outlines the recommendations.  

Ontario and Québec did not wait for federal regulations to implement their own legislation. Ontario became the first province to mandate policies on disconnecting from work. Québec is in the process of proposing and trying to pass similar legislation.

How to reFresh

In our 5 F’s of Productivity ebook, we discussed the importance of focusing on how to stay energized, with ‘reFresh’ coming in as our 5th “F” of productivity .

1. Forget FOMO; seek JOMO – the Joy of Missing Out. Let someone else lead a project. 

2. Spend time on stress-relieving activities throughout the week. 

3. Take real weekends and vacations. 

4. Have some fun during your breaks. 

Following these suggestions will leave you re-energized to tackle your work.

The best thing to do on your breaks? Spend time in nature.

Exposure to nature facilitates our “right to disconnect.” Research shows that cognitive tasks requiring working memory and cognitive flexibility improve when we spend time outdoors. 

Several theories explain why interacting with natural environments is restorative for cognitive function. In particular:

1. Stress-reduction theory suggests that a positive emotional response to nature allows a person to return to an unstressed state. 

2. Attention-restoration theory claims that natural environments capture involuntary attention allowing directed attention a chance to replenish. 

Simple and brief interactions with nature can produce marked increases in cognitive control. Even just 20 minutes per day (120 minutes per week) spent outdoors in the fresh air can provide a powerful recharge.  

Your mission, should you choose to accept it

You’ve been presented with the evidence; now it’s time to create your reFresh game plan. It should look something like this:

1. Take regular breaks and real vacations.

2. Immerse yourself in nature as often as possible.

3. Seek JOMO (the Joy of Missing Out) - give others the chance to shine by delegating non-core projects. 

Of course, if you’re short on team members to delegate to while you’re out enjoying your nature breaks, we’d be happy to match you with one of our many talented virtual assistants!

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Justin Waldrop

Justin is the Brand & Communications Manager at Virtual Gurus.

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