Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan Jay Hidalgo is the founder of Jay Hidalgo Business and Leadership Coaching. He helps companies, nonprofits, and ministries grow their organizations, improve operations and expand their markets. A business owner himself, Jay has developed ways to streamline processes, improve teams and radically boost productivity. He feels the best way for overworked leaders to “reclaim their life” is leveraging the systems, tools, and frameworks that will catalyze high-quality decision making across their entire organization. He has had the privilege to coach and consult hundreds of firms, including Herman Miller, Michelin, Eloqua (now part of Oracle), Ariba, General Motors, Medtronic, NCR, Harte-Hanks, Toshiba, Rubbermaid, Act-On Software, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Haworth, and Pitney Bowes.
Start your work with rest
As I write this, we’re in the midst of summer. I can’t help but express my love for this time of year. Summer holds a special place in my heart. It’s a time when we can finally bid farewell to winter jackets and embrace the freedom of flip flops and shorts. Baseball becomes a prominent part of our lives, and warm evenings on the deck with friends and engaging conversations become a cherished ritual. There’s something about June, July, and August that makes life slow down, even if just a little bit.
When the topic of summer plans arises, I eagerly share my excitement about upcoming baseball trips, hiking adventures, and, the highlight of it all, our two-week “off the grid” vacation in August. Often, I’m met with surprised responses like, “Two weeks?! I could never be away for that long.” To which I always respond, “You could if you chose to.”
It seems we’ve fallen into the belief that vacation or rest is something we stumble upon or squeeze into our packed schedules. Unfortunately, this line of thinking has made us less productive and more stressed. A recent Harvard Business Review article I came across highlighted research that supports this claim. It stated, “All of us are too steeped in a productivity culture to value doing nothing.”
Moreover, the research indicates that rest and vacation are not only essential for reducing stress but also for increasing productivity and achieving success. So, why do we struggle to prioritize them? In my experience, it’s because we’ve forgotten how to truly rest. We mistakenly equate “time off” with rest. The problem is that many of us fill our free time with other forms of work—tending to the yard, shuttling kids around, volunteering, and so on. Even during vacations, we often pack our schedules with one activity after another. Eventually, we return home needing rest to recover from our time off, which seems counterintuitive.
If this rings true, then how can we shift our approach to rest and vacation?
First, I encourage you to read a post I wrote a few years ago titled “What is Rest?” It provides an overview of intentionally scheduling downtime.
Additionally, I’ve discovered three key ingredients that contribute to rejuvenating rest:
- Refrain from Regular Work: Rest time should not be filled with catching up on tasks or engaging in busy work. Turn off notifications, step away from screens, avoid preparing for the next day, and simply stop working. Yes, you can do it!
- Practice Silence, Solitude, Stillness: Whether you call it prayer, meditation, or contemplation, creating space for stillness and silence is crucial. Some find it while taking a walk in nature, others in a peaceful park, and some prefer sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee. Whatever form it takes for you, embrace it. Just be still and silent for a while.
- Engage with Your People: We all have individuals who lift us up, bring us joy, and make us feel whole when we’re in their presence. Proper rest and relaxation involve spending time with these people. Meaningful relationships have a way of restoring us. Whether it’s family or friends, prioritize spending your rest time with them. Conversely, try to avoid being with those who drain your energy when you’re seeking rest.
So, I challenge you to make this summer the season of learning how to truly rest. Schedule it, plan for it, and take it without guilt. By doing so, you’ll discover a new world with reduced stress, heightened productivity, and greater clarity. I promise you won’t regret it.