Does this situation sound familiar? You've been working non-stop on a problem, logging in 60-hour workweeks and gluing yourself to the desk during the weekends. Even when you take a break, to have coffee with a friend, or attend your daughter's ballet recital, your mind gravitates to work. While slogging it out may be considered a normal practice of entrepreneurs, new research shows taking a break is actually better for business.
Cognitive disengagement may sound counterproductive when you're trying to build a business, but University of Toronto Rotman School of Business Ph.D candidate Bonnie Hayden Cheng and Associate Professor Julie McCarthy's study proves it may be the smartest way to work. "Actively taking your mind off the problems at hand actually helps manage multiple role responsibilities and leads to increased levels of [work] satisfaction," says Cheng.
If 'me time' sounds like a luxury or as something that takes time away from the business, consider this: "Your subconscious is 800 times more powerful than your conscious mind," says business-execution coach Jonathan Smith. The conscious brain's limited problem-solving capabilities means mental disengagement may be just as important to your business' success as a sales meeting.
Smith refers to the process of mental disengagement as a 'clarity break' and credits these breaks for the success of great leaders, arguing they allow space to envision the future and bring long-term goals into perspective. "Leaders who don't take the time to think about the business outside of busy work and meetings have a difficult time solving problems and aren't able to lead as well as others who take a time out on a regular basis," says Smith.
Stepping away gives your brain the opportunity to have a breakthrough moment as the subconscious is allowed to work through the problems you've been slogging through all day. Cognitive disengagement allows the brain to recharge its batteries, so to speak, allowing us to return to the problem with a fresh perspective and renewed energy. Smith says he often finds clarity after participating in a yoga class. "Focusing on breathing and setting an intention often delivers an answer," he says.
Whatever you do, don't use your break to catch up on 'busy work' and turn your cell phone off. Cheng stresses the quality of the break is more important than the quantity.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.