25 Jun A Siesta’s Not a Bad Idea!
People used to take vacations. Real ones. I was one of them. I’d go for 2-3 weeks somewhere with no phone or email. Nowadays this disconnection is out of the ordinary.
When in Athens recently, I was hiking with my mother up the steps to see the Acropolis, and as we were taking pictures and considering that this place was the birthplace of so many things, like democracy and the Olympics, there was a man behind me checking his emails. He was talking to his friend about his work that he’d carried with him to this spectacular spot. His friend said, “I can’t believe you’re checking your emails!” to which the man replied, “I have to. Otherwise I’ll come home to 4000 emails!”
I was sad that he was missing this moment. But I also recognized the thought process of not wanting to get behind, or to come back to work only to be overwhelmed by what is in your inbox. I had taken great pains to have bounce back messages set up on different accounts, alerting people as to whom they could contact in my absence, having one account managed by an assistant, and then setting up the emails to automatically go into my trash so that I could come back and start fresh. In part, it worked. It’s a work in progress, and I’ll know what to do differently next time.
What I do know though is that a 2-3 week get-away, completely disconnected from work does wonders for becoming refreshed, reducing stress, letting go, increasing energy and gaining perspective.
I had a solitary walk along a narrow, alley-like street in Tinos one day, not realizing that it was their siesta time at first, but totally enjoying being one of the only people wandering the street.
As we got more familiar with the Greek’s pattern though of working in the morning, taking a 3-hour siesta to rest during the heat of the day, and then coming back to for 4-5 hours later, it seemed like a wise thing to do. It certainly beats frantically working through lunch at your desk. All the research on energy points to the fact that frequent breaks are necessary to keep energy, productivity and creativity high.
I adopted the siesta idea awhile back – not so much 3 hour windows, but taking short breaks frequently, taking lunch hours to walk or take in a class at the gym, and I do find that my afternoons are much more productive when I do so.
I’m wholeheartedly recommending the long vacation-type siestas too – those 2-3 week vacations where you completely disconnect from work. We simply have to stop occasionally, slow down, work less, breathe more, step away, reflect and come out the other side rested, with more attention, creativity, proactivity and possibility!