Article Date: 6/1/2009

For Best Results, Take Your Time

For Best Results, Take Your Time

Are you riding a tidal wave of stress and work? Why not take a break?

Jim Thomas

At the beginning of the summer season, I would like to discuss a topic that has confronted mankind since the very first day work was invented. That is the topic of time off. It's important to stress the value of vacations and breaks, especially in a profession such as optometry, in which there is a large population of highly-motivated "A"-type personalities. Just as a doctor would tell a computer user to regularly take a break from the monitor, you need regular breaks.

There are plenty of published studies that confirm that breaks increase health and productivity. My recent favorite is a New Zealand Airlines study that concludes vacationers increase their alertness and reaction time by 82%. Even after the vacation concludes, test subjects still showed a 25% gain.

Think big

So you may want to think big, and take that long vacation. Your timing couldn't be better. Travel destinations have cut prices in the hopes of attracting more vacationers. This means you stand a very good chance of getting a great deal while avoiding crowds.

Don't confuse the benefits of a week or two off with the short two-to three-day "micro-vacations." A May 2007 Business Week article tells us: "Experts agree that a key ingredient in peak performance is a drastic change of venue coupled with shutting down for extended periods of time." That means significant time away from phones and e-mail.

Think small

It's also critical to schedule breaks during the workday. (Think of what would happen to high-performance athletes if they never gave their muscles time to recover.) These breaks allow you to collect your thoughts, unwind, plan for upcoming tasks and eat properly. Make sure that your employees also receive the benefits of breaks without feeling the pressures of the office.

Think smart

Some of the most valuable breaks are those taken when another party demands immediate action — aside from medical emergencies, of course. For example, an employee threatens to resign unless you change personnel or procedures. In this instance, it's easy to get caught up in the moment. You might feel obligated to take immediate action. However, when you take the time necessary to evaluate the situation before you render a decision, you avoid taking actions that your practice could regret later.

Remember, time — including time off — is on your side. OM

Optometric Management, Issue: June 2009