If you have followed any of my articles over the past few years, you’ve probably heard me plead to the audience to take time every week and every month to “Unplug from the Matrix.”

That’s just another way to ask you to remember to shut down all of your electronic gadgets and spend some quality, uninterrupted time with yourself or someone you really care about.

I’ve also come to realize that us human beings are not designed for a 24/7, 365-day work life. Study after study is coming back telling us that our brains need down time, not just sleep.

In learning this I’ve come to a conclusion that may seem counter-intuitive to many of you. Taking the time to really be away and unattached to the challenges of the workplace can actually make you much more effective when dealing with your workplace.

Your conscious brain needs time to process information and data, which allows your subconscious brain the time and energy required to come up with all those amazing solutions that seem to pop into your brain from out of nowhere.

Ask yourself how many times the answer to a difficult task came to you once you decided to stop thinking about it?

Athletes call it pressing, meaning that when they are thinking too much about what they are supposed to be doing they actually struggle more to execute the task.

The same is true for us in the non-athlete world. We need some time to process and allow our natural instincts and ability to kick in, and sometimes that requires leaving a situation so you can return to it later, more powerfully.

Give yourself the time to really think through options and solutions, instead of feeling as though you have to come up with the answer right now.

I’ve had many discussions with my clients about this same challenge. The solution seems to contradict everything they have done to that point to be successful.

Think about it. When you are coming up through the ranks in the workplace and there was a big challenge or problem, you just applied yourself and worked harder or longer to get to the endpoint. That works really well up to a certain point in your career. As many of you can attest to, at some point you start to see diminishing returns on those longer hours and driving yourself to just work more or harder.

As the title to this article states, the treadmill doesn’t go to eleven. You can’t always pick up the pace and run faster when you’re facing a challenge or need a new solution.

Sometimes you have to literally unplug. Dial it back, and maybe turn it off for a while. Go for a walk, a quick run, or exercise. Hit the steam or sauna. Get a massage. Go shopping or to a movie. Take a nap. Recover.

At some point in your career, the solutions are about creative thinking and leveraging those around you to help drive the organization forward, rather than you working harder or longer to come up with all the answers.

As your responsibility grows, the things you can invest your time and energy into become less and less about how long and hard you work, and more about how smart you work.

Quantitative reasoning, and qualitative solutions are required to be successful in the new normal.

Ask yourself this week:

Where am I killing myself in the workplace only to see diminishing returns?

How am I leveraging the people and systems available to me to move the organization forward?

How am I grinding my gears to a halt with productivity?

Where am I holding on to an old, outdated version of me that’s no longer working for me?

Where am I going to dial the treadmill back a few notches to a more reasonable, and sustainable pace?

Thoughts for the week:

“Excuses are nothing more than the lies we tell ourselves to temporarily alleviate the guilt we feel when we avoid good habits” –unknown

“Most people are so busy knocking themselves out trying to do everything they think they should do, they never get around to what they want to do” –Kathleen Winsor

“There’s more to life to life than increasing it’s speed” -Mahatma Ghandi

“it’s not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” -Henry David Thoreau

“The really idle man gets nowhere. The perpetually busy man does not get much further” –Sir Heneage Oglivie

“Leisure should be a time to think new thoughts, not ponder old ills” –C. Neil Strait


Looking forward to our next conversation