The Benefits of Taking a Hiatus

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Taking time to catch your breath and reassess is essential explains Ayanna Castro

hi·a·tus /hīˈādəs/ -,noun

a pause or gap in a sequence, series, or process.

synonyms: pause, break, interval, interruption, suspension, intermission, interlude, gap, lacuna, lull, rest, respite, breathing space, time out;

In the northern hemisphere, the summer months are upon us and many of us are looking forward to taking a vacation. Sadly, it might be the only break that we have taken this year. When you mention hiatus, people tend to think that you are talking about an extended period of time. But do you know there’s no predetermined time limit for a hiatus and it doesn’t require airfare and hotel accommodation? A hiatus can be as short as five minutes and still be beneficial.

An opportunity to breathe and reassess

Professionals who manage the lives and businesses of others can easily into fall into the trap of speeding through the day without taking a moment for themselves. Many focus on achieving the task at hand while managing multiple projects.

Kemetia Foley (@officerenegade) has an awesome challenge during the month of April called #AprilDeskEscape where she encourages everyone to get away from their desks during lunch and walk for thirty minutes. Getting away from your desk doesn’t have to wait until lunch. Look at your schedule in the morning, or better yet the night before, and block off time to get away from your desk. I tend to take a hiatus later in the afternoon after I’ve had a day full of meetings and decision making. It helps me think through the outcomes of each meeting as well as solutions to any challenges I might have faced earlier in the day.

Taking a well-scheduled moment for yourself to catch your breath and reassess isn’t irresponsible, it provides necessary balance in your workday. When you take a moment to reassess, you can ask yourself what really needs to be done, and if the tasks on your list benefit the end goal.

Allow creativity to stretch its legs

A hiatus allows creativity to stretch its legs and provides space for the birth of new ideas. When you take time to think and are not consumed with what everybody else is doing, it gives you time to be creative. It gives you time to come up with new ideas and different ways of doing things.

As the program manager for an employee recognition program, I have several tasks that overlap with other events created to encourage employee engagement. When I can’t push past a task, shifting to a completely different type of event or project will often spark an idea that I can use.

When you find yourself looking at the same presentation slides unable to compose the next bullet point, save and close the document and step away. Even though you aren’t physically working on the document, your brain will still think about it – but it now has freedom to come up with a bunch of new ideas without the risk of you quelling them before they can develop.

Allow the ideas to flow without dismissing them. Write them all down; no idea should be thought of as ridiculous. Then take the time to flush the list out. Take time to give yourself that opportunity to breathe, to reassess, to get your creative ideas out of your head. There are probably several brilliant ideas in your head right now that can’t even get out because you have 50 other things in front of them vying for your attention. What if you just put those 50 other things on the side for a day or two?

If it’s not mission critical or not a life or death situation give your brain a break.

An opportunity to come back better than before

Once you’ve taken a hiatus, whether it was five or thirty minutes, you may be excited to get back to the task at hand. No one knows better than you when you need a break. No one knows better than you when you aren’t delivering your best because you are burned out. But eventually, your internal feelings will begin to display externally.

You, your manager, department and your organization deserve your authentic best effort.

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About Author

Ayanna Castro

Ayanna Castro, PMP, CGMP, CAP, OM is the Founder and Chief Maven of Work Your Package™ and the author of Work Your Package™ – A Guide to Being the Total Package. Ayanna has over 25 years of professional experience in various industries such city government, law, public relations, private equity, utilities and media. She holds both A.A. and B.A degrees in Business Administration and Sociology. Ayanna will be speaking at Executive Secretary LIVE in Johannesburg, 28-29 February 2020. For further information and to book, visit www.executivesecretarylive.com

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