People often equate true relaxation with completely disconnecting from life. However, you don't have to throw your phone into the sea or demolish your router to truly recharge your batteries.
Have you ever noticed how many great thinkers claim to keep a notepad at their bedside--just in case they're startled awake by a stroke of genius? Or how athletes often prepare for intense physical activity by "getting in the zone"? It's as if there's a fine line between their relaxation (sleep or zoning in) and their work, and the only way they can succeed is by ensuring that line is maintained.
As an entrepreneur, the same idea applies.
Relaxation allows you to avoid overanalyzing and make intuitive decisions to overcome the complex problems that can arise in the ever-changing landscape of business, and it prevents burnout, which--as any experienced entrepreneur knows--is a very real possibility.
Indeed, studies suggest that relaxation is a key component to work productivity, but that's not to say you have to completely unplug from the world.
Don't Unplug--Just Step Back
Studies indicate that a lack of sleep is one of the surest predictors of on-the-job burnout. What's more, longer naps are more effective than shorter ones, with 60 to 90 minutes being the perfect range.
In fact, 90 minutes seems to be a magic number. According to research conducted by Florida State University, people function at their best when they work in uninterrupted bursts that last no longer than 90 minutes. This means they start in the morning, take small breaks every 90 minutes, and end up working only around four and a half hours a day.
We shouldn't be constantly pushing ourselves to the limit. We accomplish more in less time when we don't run against a wall of exhaustion.
Avoid the Wall
How do we allow ourselves to recharge without completely pulling back from everyday life? Here are a few suggestions:
Work diet: Similar to counting calories, a work diet means that you're limiting how much time you spend on the job--at least occasionally. If you have the right team, you shouldn't have to worry about how your business will function in your absence. Don't limit yourself to taking off a long weekend or a week. Perhaps even go away for three or four weeks.That's not to say you can't do any work during that period. Take a moment to clear your emails or jot down notes, but make sure these moments are occasional. Remember, you're on a diet.
Time travel: By placing yourself in completely new situations, you'll be refreshed and brimming with new ideas upon your return. Nothing is more effective than traveling to someplace you've never been. Many of my best ideas have come to me through travel, and the amazing thing is that when I return to work, everything is still in place and proceeding smoothly as if I never left. It's kind of like time travel.
Mini-school: It might not sound relaxing, but participating in an intense, accelerated learning activity can be a really revitalizing break. Whether that means attending a conference, taking a class online, or going back to school, it gives you a chance to snap out of the repetition of work and exercise your brain.
Cycling: Many people assume that going on vacation is the only way to recharge their batteries, but it's not that binary. Instead of withdrawing altogether, learn to shift your focus through a strategy called "cycling." It works something like this: Spend four months building your business, four months developing your health, and then four months improving your personal relationships. Ideally, you're doing all these things simultaneously (at least to some degree). By learning to shift your focus occasionally, you'll find that it both keeps things fresh and helps to maintain a good work/life balance.
For some people, unplugging completely is the surest form of relaxation. For others, however, a full unplug causes more stress. Maybe they feel stressed when they can't be available for their employees, or maybe they just prefer to be on-call for when a fire needs putting out.
Whatever the case, everyone relaxes in different ways, and it's important to figure out what works best for you. It's a concept as old as time--you need enough inner fuel to fan the flames of success, but when it consumes all of your energy, success is extinguished, so find your method of refueling now.