I spent many years of my youth and early adulthood learning and perfecting my ability to play the guitar. I studied music theory, listened to my favorite artists, and learned to play musical scales as fast as possible. One day, I had the opportunity to sit down with a veteran blues guitarist and play. I began showing off my proficiency when he stopped me cold and said, “It doesn’t matter how fast you can play. The magic happens in the pauses between the notes.”
This lesson stuck with me as I transitioned from an aspiring musician to a business professional. In a world of remote work and fast-paced communication, when do we pause for strategic thinking, reflection, or just step away from a problem for a fresh perspective?
It becomes increasingly challenging to balance work and personal life as many successful companies embrace remote work for their employees. Healthy pauses or breaks from work tasks increase brain function, enable real problem-solving, and promote healthy energy management.
Technology has enabled us to work from anywhere and communicate at lightning speed; however, the brain needs breaks to function at peak performance. Research shows that taking pauses can boost your performance, increase your mood, and keep you motivated. Certain areas of the brain required for problem-solving are not active when processing new information. When you take a break, you can solve problems in fresher ways!
Intentionally make time for strategic thinking and reflection in your schedule. The pace of work can sometimes leave us exhausted at the end of the day and unsure of what we accomplished. If our brain constantly processes new information, answers emails, and writes reports, then it is not strategically thinking about the future. Scheduling time for strategic thinking allows us to engage the brain to anticipate future obstacles and do real problem-solving.
Finally, taking time to reflect contributes to overall energy management. It allows space for you to decide where your energy is best spent and provides a fresh perspective. How many activities today were a waste of energy? What tasks can I delegate? Are my priorities clear? Are my activities aligned with my goals and objectives?
Remember, taking a break doesn’t mean that you are fully “checked out.” Doing a mindless task, taking a walk, or simply staring into space allows other areas of the brain to function properly.
Great instrumentalists know when to play and when to pause. Step away from your screen and unplug for a moment to increase the impact of your overall performance.