Reflections: National Relaxation Day 15th August - Let’s look at our working practices

Whether you celebrated National Relaxation Day on Sunday 15th or not, this seems like a good opportunity to reflect on our own working practices. Are you getting the balance right in order to maximise your productivity and prevent burnout? Covid-19’s uncertainty has been relentless for many, but as we approach a new normal, perhaps, we can look at our perspective on relaxation and appreciate its role in sustainable productivity.

Throughout the pandemic social media bombarded individuals with messages encouraging people to not waste the opportunity of this ‘extra’ time whilst also prioritising our mental wellbeing and practicing selfcare. It can seem overwhelming to try to balance these two pressures. In her book ‘Working Hard, Hardly Working’ Grace Beverley redefines productivity, suggesting these pressures are not opposites, rather they can be complementary and mutually beneficial. Working hard to finish a task is sometimes the best thing to do for you, whilst equally, switching off and knowing when to step back and relax is also a productive use of your time. Let’s explore this further.

Beverley suggests increasing self-fulfilment in both your work and social lives revolves around setting key personal boundaries and truly understanding how you work and your priorities, defining what you value and how you see success.

In a culture of comparison, some people want to be seen to be busy, but is being constantly busy always productive? Working tirelessly or prioritising easy work to make you feel productive may not be most effective at helping you achieve your goals. Scheduling time for yourself to switch off, take a step back and recharge, before you reach being burnt-out, is a productive use of time. This may help increase your focus, creativity, and decision-making abilities.

Saying this, excuses should not be made to be lazy. Working efficiently and truly productively is an important part of your self-care. It is about knowing where you need to spend your time and energy. Sometimes doing something nearly right and quickly could be better than doing something perfectly and being late. Consider your priorities, how they contribute to your goals and make yourself accountable.

Goals may help guide your purpose and you can feel fulfilled by achieving these goals at whatever level whether that be daily, weekly, quarterly, etc. Celebrate the smaller successes as well. Enjoy the process, whilst working towards meaningful results. Beverley promotes finding your micro-passions, however small or niche, and making a conscious effort to incorporate these into your day.

Effective time-management not only ensures you are working efficiently throughout the working day but may help create time for your life outside of work. Beverley suggests a time-blocking technique to increase efficiency and keep yourself accountable. This may also help prevent admin tasks taking up your whole day and help you create time for what Beverley refers to as ‘deep work’. It is also important however, to remember we are all human beings, plans change and so you must also be prepared for flexibility. Remember to concentrate on what you have control over.

Consider this when looking at your business. Employers or line managers should be mindful of employee working practices. Clearly, finding the right balance and working preferences are intricately personal and it will take time to work out what works best for you. As an employer, try not to get too focused on your preferred process. Being open to individuality may just lead to an increase in productivity.

Whilst it’s wonderful to celebrate National Relaxation Day, make sure this isn’t the only time you put your feet up! Being mindful of this balance could be key to your organisational success and personal fulfilment. Take some time to reflect on whether your working habits help optimise both personal and team productivity, creativity, and wellbeing.

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