Business owners are often driven to succeed. Their mentality is keep it moving, keep improving, and grow the business, which is all good and necessary. However, when coupled with a short term thinking approach and when taken to extremes, such a mentality can become a detriment to the organization.
We have to remember that not everyone has the same capacity to perform. A few people can go 24/7. Most employees though can put in a solid 8 hours but then they need to call it a day. When we forget or overlook this basic difference in capacity, we can make business decisions that overload, frustrate or burnout employees resulting in poor performance.
One way to avoid this tendency to overload is to use the concept of “walk breaks.” In distance running, especially marathon running, walk breaks are allowed and encouraged. When trying to run 26.2 miles straight, the legs get tired, really tired! Your muscles will tense and lock up from the constant repetitive motion and the pounding of the pavement.
If your muscles are tense, they don’t work so well. Walk breaks allow for a change of pace, a moment of relaxation, and even a chance for muscles in your entire body to re-energize. All it takes is 30-60 seconds of walk time for every 3-5 miles of run time. A patient and occasionally walking marathon runner will typically have a better finishing time than a runner of similar fitness that tries to run the whole 26.2 miles without breaks. They will also describe the race event as being easier and have less discomfort and better recovery time after the race.
Walk breaks work in marathon running and in business. When we can schedule “walk breaks,” for employees, we minimize the chance of overload, frustration and burnout. They can be a few minutes throughout the day or week where employees can relax and decompress or they can be project oriented…finish a project and have a productive yet fun debrief to close it out and relax at the same time. It takes a long term thinking approach and patience so it can be a difficult thing in our get-it-done society but when walk breaks are allowed, employees will go farther and faster!