Rest Creates Productivity

This weekend my husband and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. We went to Madeline Island, one of the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior. We didn’t know that the island really slows down after Labor Day. The businesses on the island go 150% between Memorial Day and Labor Day. From my first-time perspective, once Labor Day weekend is over, things settle into a slower season and pace, and eventually a season of rest and recovery over the winter months. As a result, we weren’t “entertained” by the island like I assumed we would be. The first day, it felt a little weird if I’m being honest. Typically, when we get away for a weekend, we pack every minute with beautiful meals, fun cocktails, live music, and the relevant area activities. We don’t always slow down because we want to see and do as much as we can in a new city. Madeline Island on a late September weekend is not there for your (or my) entertainment. Madeline Island is starting her season of slowing down during that time. Then after the slowing down, she rests. This isn’t because she just wants to, it’s because she knows that she’s going to give it 150% when the season starts up again. She knows that in order to be her best in the on-season, she needs an off-season. By the second day, we settled into her schedule. It was exactly what we needed. We found a deserted beach and watched the waves for two hours as we talked and shared a bottle of wine. We literally had nothing to do but rest and connect. Thank God the island insisted on projecting her feelings on us.

On our last morning, I had a brief conversation with one of the resident business owners that stays open year around. The owner was exhausted. You could feel it. It’s like the feeling when you walk into a first-time parent’s home during the first few weeks of having an infant. You wanted to tip-toe across the floor of the store so you didn’t wake “the baby.” The business owner was tired and the business was tired. I asked if they were also getting ready to close for the off-season, the owner said “Unfortunately, we stay open all year. I don’t know why but this was a hard season, we’re exhausted here.” I think the owner immediately felt like they had overshared and then put on a fake smile and said “What can I do for you?” In a weird way, I realized in real time that I didn’t want anything but to leave the store. The business owner’s frenzy was off putting. I put in my order and left.

You have probably been in that business owner’s shoes – maybe you are right now.  I have been there. There were specific seasons where I put off rest thinking that productivity needed to trump everything. I look back and can see so clearly when I was exhausted. Those were also the times my business was tired too. Productivity doesn’t trump rest. Rest trumps productivity because rest creates productivity. Rest is THE precursor to productivity. If we aren’t as productive as we’d would like to be as business owners, leaders or parents, how often are we closing down the store for a season, if ever?

During those times where things felt unproductive or where I felt lacking in momentum, I often would look for systems or discipline to get productivity back up. I’d try to tweak my morning routine by getting up earlier to do more. I’d hire a consultant to evaluate our productivity or operations and systems. I’d reach out to a mentor for advice. {Insert face into palm.} Now I realize, I should have been reaching for rest more often.

I used to think that rest was only a reward for my productivity. If I delivered so much, I would reward myself with rest. Can we just all agree that we need to change that narrative in our businesses? We know intellectually that equation does not work. If my child is struggling to perform, function or be productive, I don’t keep them up until mid-night. I put that child to bed. Why don’t we allow ourselves this luxury? In almost every other area of life, we know that productivity is a reward for proactive rest. Why don’t we apply the same logic to our work life? If I rest, I can expect to be productive. If I rest, I can expect growth. If I rest, I can create. If I rest, I can do my best work. If I rest, I can do my best learning. There is peace and abundance and productivity on the other side of rest.

If we know better, why don’t we do better? We can still be crazy, productive in our businesses and incorporate more rest. We can deliver crazy, great results to our companies and still incorporate rest. We can be crazy, awesome parents to our children and still incorporate rest. Rest trumps productivity because rest creates productivity. Do not be the crabby, tired business owner on Madeline Island. Be the business that takes rest and is ready to serve with a smile. You’ll attract more business, more clients, and likely better results. But in the grand scheme of things, you’ll be happier.

EncourageYou Opportunity:

Is it time for a rest? Consider the sign you’ve been looking for, put yourself on rest. Maybe you don’t need a full season, but you may need a day, a long weekend just to rest yourself. Perhaps your calendar runs you, find a time to block out an afternoon as you soon as you see white space. Don’t schedule over it. Don’t have a sitter for your kids, trade rest days with another family or parent. I’ll watch your kiddos while you enjoy a rest day. Next week, you watch mine. No matter what is getting in the way, get creative in finding a way around it. You need to rest.   

EncourageHer Opportunity:

In this next week, who is a woman (or person) that needs you to encourage her to take rest?  Maybe you’ve successfully walked through this years ago and can just be someone’s biggest cheerleader. If this is you, you’re a woman in position to help another woman! This is great news. Just go ahead and pick up the dang phone to EncourageHer. You are amazing!

EncourageHer Leader’s Corner: I have learned that many of the people that read this blog are people leaders, leaders of leaders, or entrepreneurial leaders in their own businesses or organizations. As a result, I want to provide some context for you specifically as you step into your leadership.

If you work in industries that value productivity over everything, this can be hard to do. Trust me though, rest creates productivity. If you are the business owner, find consistent rhythms of rest. Your productivity will go up. Even if you don’t think you need it (you do), it creates an environment in your business that will allow for your employees to take rest. If you are a people leader, and you have some perennial high performers that are struggling, check in on their rest. Help them connect the dots. Rest trumps productivity because rest creates productivity. They’ll thank you when they get back.

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!


Published by encourageherelena

My name is Elena and I'm the Chief Encourager at Encourage Her Elena. Encouraging Women in business, at home and in community is my passion. I'm an author, speaker, and coach. After almost twenty years in Financial Services (the ultimate male dominated industry), I realized that women need to hear another voice. They need to hear their own voice and step into exactly who they were made to be.

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