The Benefits Of A True “Shutdown”

“When do you let your brain relax and take a break?”

This question came from someone close to me recently. Someone who clearly knows me better than I know myself in certain ways. The question made me pause for a moment and reflect on the fact that my daily life and habits are not well suited to support me giving my brain a break. I work hard, balance my kids’ busy schedules, plan and execute meals, do laundry and dishes, volunteer in my community, and satisfy my quest for knowledge by listening to podcasts when I am doing errands or exercising. My own disposition and the demands of the modern world do not facilitate a lot of quiet or contemplation on a regular basis.

At the same time, working in an externally facing, client services business also does not provide a lot of room for relaxation and brain breaks. Especially one as high stakes as recruiting. We are rewarded for success, penalized for dropping balls, and constantly encouraged to do and be more. We could always take on one more project, send one more recruiting email, update one more process. Our work is never done.

Two years ago my fellow co-founder and partner at Edgility, Allison Wyatt, and I decided to close our offices one week a year for what we now call a “summer shutdown.” We are in a cyclical business. Summer is a bit of a breather anyway as clients and partners are on vacation or moving more slowly themselves. But we wanted to be more intentional about giving our hard working team members a break, so we decided that we would close the office once a year so that everyone was out of the office at the same time and could completely unplug guilt-free and without having to use any of their personal vacation time.

Some Edgility team members used the week to travel with family and friends. Others of us took advantage of the chance to clear out our personal to-do lists or enjoy a little more time with our kiddos before they start up in school again. We all appreciated the opportunity to rest our brains, clear out work thoughts for at least a little while, and come back refreshed and ready for the fall – without the flooded inbox that results when you are away and everyone else is working as usual, sending you emails and meeting requests.

How do you unplug and get a break for your brain? Do you periodically turn off email on your phone? Go out in nature? Take time for yourself at the gym? Tell us more in the comments section of this post.