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The Power Of Calling A ‘Time Out’

Why is it that for many of us taking the time out from our busy lives, our business or career is deemed such a luxury that we not only feel guilty but selfish. Taking time for you is not an indulgence. It’s a necessity. Here are some tips and why it’s important to make this a priority.

Carol Yang

‘People over-estimate what they can do in a single day and under-estimate what they can do in their whole lives’

Earlier this week I returned from a 4-day business leadership and vitality retreat that was set in the most beautiful surrounds on the Queensland coast. Our days were filled with yoga on the beach, swimming, leadership and health focused workshops, fabulous food, and spa treatments, amazing company and stimulating conversations. It was heaven!

Not only did it spur ideas, challenge thinking, introduce new relationships and present brilliant new opportunities, it offered each of us a moment to truly reflect and connect. Simply taking the time to pause, move slower and with more considered thought seemed to breathe new life into ideas and spark new excitement and purpose in what we do and why we do it.

So why is it that for many of us taking the time out from our busy lives, our business or career is deemed such a luxury that we not only feel guilty but selfish. Taking time for you is not an indulgence. It’s a necessity. It’s a great way to refocus, re-energize and increase our capability to give out more authentically and meaningfully. Give out to our teams, our colleagues, our families, friends and community.

We have somehow convinced ourselves – and often those around us – that we are so busy that finding the time to grab a coffee, pause for a lunch break or simply ask someone how their day is going is a luxury rather than a necessity. We measure our value (and sometimes importance) by packing our calendars with events and meetings, and our success by how many things we do and in how fast we can do it. We become so busy ticking things off our To Do list that we forget why we are doing them or worse still if they are adding meaning and value to us, our businesses or our clients and customers.

For those of you who have played team sports, you will be familiar with the time-out rule. Designed to regroup, refocus and unify a team, it allows the coach to gain insight into what is happening on the field and what the next step should be. It also allows the players to catch their breath. It’s a time to revisit the strategy, regroup and agree what the next steps should be to win the game and achieve the desired success.

This principle of calling ‘time-out’ is critical for us as individuals and also for the teams and businesses that we lead. For those of us in leadership positions we know the value off-site days, team events and conferences can bring when organized with purpose and thought. Bringing people together, breaking momentum, creating opportunities to see those around us as people first and colleagues’ second; and giving space for all to share ideas, voice opinions and align talents. It’s the equivalent of a coach calling the team off the court for a ‘time-out’ to regroup, refocus, build agreement and unify in the team.

Tips for calling time-out:

  • Keep your finger on the pulse: If a coach is smart, they call time out when they see their team flagging or the competition gaining momentum. Just as we are the coach of our own lives and our teams, we need to be able to determine when the critical and most effective moment for time-out is.
  • Do things that invigorate you / your team: Identify the things and/or activities that bring inspiration and creativity and generate energy for what it is that you do.
  • Set your time out period as a priority: Giving time-out the value and priority it deserves is essential if it is to create lasting value. If it’s not in the diary it invariably won’t happen so find the time to prioritise it and lock it away.
  • Communicate your ‘time-out’ to those closest to you: In order for others to respect the time needed and the value that it brings to you, you need to communicate it with those around you. Gathering support for what you are doing will help you value the time you are gifting yourself and or your team.
  • Ensure that after your time-out you return to ‘the game’: To win the game you need to get back on the court – otherwise you will remain on the bench and watch others assume your position (or opportunity). Returning with clarity, focus and energy will allow you to play out your winning moves, enjoy the progress and opportunities ahead.

The need for genuine and constructive time-out has never been more apparent – both for ourselves and for our teams and businesses. All too often it is where the creative solutions and winning moves are formulated. In today’s crazy, fast paced world where so many of us are rarely afforded the space and opportunity to think clearly, plan and really connect with each other the offer of time-out can be our game-changer. All we have to do is lock it away in the diary – it’s up to us to make it a priority.

Margot – The Career Diplomat

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