THE BLOG

New Years Resolution: Take a Break!

13/01/2015 12:58 GMT | Updated 15/03/2015 09:59 GMT

By the time you see this, you'll all have no doubt read a dozen New Year Resolutions articles. In fact I don't make New Year's resolutions very often, but a couple of things have driven me to think about them this year.

At the end of 2014 we were doing a review of the year as a senior management team and chatting about hopes going forward. My Exec Creative Director said to us that he believed that as a business we had lost all respect for the importance of the lunch break. Meetings, he felt, were going in with no regard for others being able to eat, let alone break in the middle of the day.

At the time my hackles rose a little - lunch break feels like such an old-fashioned word - it makes me think of school, and a regulated timetable - which isn't how our world works. And I knew how hard the team were working to try to get everything done we had to do - one man's lunch break felt like another's derivation of duty.

But his point wasn't really lunch breaks - his point was that we are a creative business and we were in danger of damaging our ability to produce the goods. In our efforts to work efficiently, produce more for less, meet the ever increasing demands of our world, serve our clients and our colleagues well and just fit it all in (I am exhausted writing it!) we were in danger of forgetting some fundamentals.

In order to be productive we have to take a break from time to time. In a creative business it's probably more important than anywhere because in order to be creative we have to give our brains time to wander from the task in hand, to reach into the subconscious, to allow things to float and just be. From those moments come greater clarity, new ideas and creative leaps.

It is simply about respecting the fact that most times we will work better, be more creative and ultimately more effective and productive if every now and then we just take some time out.

And with a little bit of time over Christmas to reflect I increasingly think he is right.

Our world is not going to get easier. I am sure that we, like many of you reading this, sit in an extremely competitive industry. Our clients are under huge pressure to perform and to work efficiently - they need their agencies to do the same.

The pressures on our time are growing. As a business leader I recognise that the work part of my team's and my lives is probably 70% of our week. And so my ambition this year is to find ways to help myself and the people in my business to be able to cope with those pressures - to ultimately be more resilient in the face of them.

There's loads of good stuff to read out there about this subject. The same Exec Creative Director gave me Arianna Huffington's book, Thrive, as a birthday present in December (is he trying to tell me something?) which has some great advice on unplugging and digital detox, mindfulness and, of course, the ultimate break - sleep.

So back to my New Year's resolutions. They are really around how I can make myself a little more resilient and more able to succeed in the world we are in.

I am going to revisit something I was taught on an excellent management course which I had the privilege of attending a few years ago. Our tutor told us to define our 'non-negotiables', the boundaries that would not be crossed no matter what. At the time in my case it was that I would always take every day's holiday I was due. I have pretty much stuck to that. I think I need to revisit them and build in something about having two nights a week when I am home to have supper with my family.

I have briefed my PA that I want meeting default times to change too - shorter meetings, 15 minute increments with gaps in between. And I am going to take the opportunities I can for breaks - a few minutes from time to time when I am still, breathe deeply and let my mind wander and see where it takes me.

And in the ongoing search for making us stronger and better as a company I am going to encourage a more resilience building approach to life in the business too: so there's an email going out this week to encourage people to get their holidays booked in, resilience training session in the diaries in February, and as inspired by my Exec Creative Director, some new approaches around respecting people's need for a break.