Finding downtime: Essential both personally and professionally


Finding downtime: Essential both personally and professionally


As a business owner I’ve become accustomed to always making myself available to the people within my business. That naturally means that my top of the range smartphone travels around with me wherever I go, whether that be in the office, travelling for work, at home in the evening or on holiday. It is something I have done for years. But a couple of weeks ago I did something I haven’t done since I can’t remember when: the mobile phone stayed at home. A real cultural shift for me personally.

It was replaced by a very basic phone which was to be used for family in emergency or a couple of the SEC board to get in contact. But only if they needed to. Thankfully there were no emergencies and I received no calls from either family, friends or anybody at SEC.

What did I learn?

The experience was a revelation to me and apart from my hands being at a slight loose end at times and a few photo opportunities I probably would have taken, the experience was rewarding both personally, as well as professionally.

From a personal perspective I got to spend more time with family but I also got time to recharge, reading more and relaxing more, which helped me to feel like I had been on an actual holiday by the end of the week I spent away. I even have some pains in my thumb which went away during the week without using the smartphone!

And from a professional point of view the time I have spent has also had a very positive impact. I spent time being able to relax first, but there was also time thinking about strategic elements within the business. We are going through a growth phase as a business and we’re really excited about what we have in the plans for 2019 and being away and not involved ‘in the thick of it’ gave me an opportunity to think about structures of the business, how could I support the business more and what could I do to drive the growth of the business, etc. It was an opportunity to form my own thoughts and crystallise them more, rather than taking on board lots of other thoughts, proposals, which could potentially lead to less focus on what I think will be good for the business. Of course it is important to have those opinions across the business, but for me it’s also important that my thinking is not influenced by that, because it encourages healthy debate for when I return to the business and we go through our business planning for the future.

The impact of having that time away has also given me a renewed vigour when I came back in to the business. I really felt pumped and excited to be back and keen to get on with our business planning for the future, because it’s an exciting time and I think we’re going to see some very interesting developments for SEC in the not too distant future.

What did I take away?

What this experience has re-emphasised to me is the importance of the ability to switch off from work when you are relaxing. Work is work and when we’re working we all want to do our best, but sometimes being able to get away from the work mindset has a better impact on the business, because you get a better level of enthusiasm for what you are doing and you can also encourage more creativity and innovation.

And for business leaders like me it’s also important to recognise this too and if senior individuals within a business give the trust to their employees and employees feel like they can step away without there being any issues to come back to, it creates a healthy working environment and adds to your overall culture of making your workplace one that people want to be part of.

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