Rest for the Weary

Schedule Time to Unplug

woman rested

Alexandra Grawblewski

Hard-charging business consultants who take "predictable time off" from their 65-hour workweeks actually accomplish more -- not less, found a recent study by Harvard Business School professor Leslie A. Perlow, Ph.D. Consultants in one group had to skip a full workday each week, while those in other groups had to unplug from work completely for one weeknight, beginning at 6 P.M.

Initially, they balked. These are dedicated businesspeople who spend 20 to 25 hours weekly monitoring their BlackBerry, in addition to their hard-core work schedule. But over time, productivity went up in both groups -- in part because the consultants had to collaborate better with coworkers to plan for the mini sabbaticals -- and they told Dr. Perlow they felt more satisfied with their job. Sure, this research was conducted on people in the workplace, but it sends the message that you can find time to rest: Make the time, and you'll become more efficient in order to compensate.

Deficit-Reduction Plan
Predictable time off from motherhood can be something as simple as a half-hour soak in the tub on a designated weeknight, with the bathroom door locked and your partner patrolling the perimeter. But once you schedule your retreat, follow through. Dr. Perlow forced the consultants to take their breaks despite fleeting crises that inevitably arose. The result? "People came to recognize that the 24/7 mentality could be broken," she reports. This can apply to all of us, no matter how we spend our days.

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