Over the last year, I have been talking a lot about how to “Bust Out of Service Fatigue,” and one of the 6 ways to bust out is to invest in rest. Last month I was giving a program on this topic and a participant approached me with a very common question:
How can I “rest” when I can’t take a day off?
I responded with a reframe of that question: “What would it take to experience an exhale at work that does not include a day off?”
After a couple moments she said, “If the phone would just stop ringing!!” She had a position where most of the calls came from internal team members, not the general public.
OK, next question: “Do most people call you the minute they have a question? And how often are the responses urgent in nature?”
Her response? It seems they always call the moment they need me and rarely is it urgent.
Great! Could you consider putting in one hour a day that is your “quiet hour,” let’s say 2 to 3pm daily. No calls in, no calls out. During that time you can exhale a bit, step away from your phone, tend to other tasks in the office, take a real break that you deserve but never take—even to step outside and get a breath of fresh air. What about projects that need undivided, uninterrupted attention—when can you do those if you are always in answer mode?
She stood there stunned for a moment as if this suggestion was impossible. Who does this?
Well, I did this for many years when I had a position similar to hers. Every afternoon, my entire team went into “quiet hour” and while we still took calls from the outside (of course we had to do that), we eliminated meetings, interruptions of people coming to my doorway to say, “got a sec?” and all the other time wasters that happen, like chatting by the water cooler.
Here is one more idea for any leaders listening to this: ask your direct reports to “pile up their questions” that are not urgent. Then ask them to decide if the question needs a today answer or can it wait until a weekly face-to-face meeting?
You will be amazed how many interruptions go away, how much more productive you can be AND that the moments you get to exhale are more frequent. An exhale at work is a form of rest. Let’s go find those moments!