Finding Time to Rest

The holiday season is always hectic. Holiday meals with friends. Multiple holiday parties with different groups. Baked goods. Gift exchanges. And the work still needs to get done.

Simply put, the holidays are stressful. Our people are worn out. They need rest.

In reading lots of articles about higher ed professional looking to leave the industry, I think this is one moment for leaders to shine. If we can help prioritize rest, we can help our teams continue to thrive.

Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.

Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

Why Rest Matters for Creative Teams?

Creatives Juices Dry Up — Especially for creatives, not having time to rest can impact their ability to come up with creative solutions. Creatives need time to be with their environment, to see things as new sources of inspiration, and to solve new challenges. For creatives, dedicated time away helps them to find new energy and new inspiration.

I find that when I unplug and don’t think about work, my mind is subconsciously solving all sorts of problems and challenges. It is not uncommon that during a restful break, I come up with 3-4 really good ideas or things the office should think about in the future.

Carrie Phillips

I have experienced this, but there is actually a study about this as well. Smallwood and Schooler found that when we rest, our brains continue coming up with good ideas that can help solve potential work problems and challenges.

Creatives Produce More When Rested — When creatives are rested, they are able to produce more content. Creative work requires lots of tedious brain power, so when creatives are rested, the work is better, more accurate, and faster.

I took all Thanksgiving Break and didn’t think about work. When I came back to the office — I found myself energized and excited to think about challenges. Things that would have frustrated me didn’t. It was the first time I realized the value of stepping back. And I got so much done all week.

HigherEd MarComm Leader

Creatives Internalize Our Brands — Creatives more than any team on campus internalizes the university brand. Chances are, most brands talk about supportive environments and caring for people. Creatives take brand messages to heart, and if the message and the expectations don’t align, it is a deeply personal conflict for them. Providing opportunities for creatives to rest is one way to show this group we care.

Our university talks about a caring environment all the time. However, there are times the university has unrealistic expectations. They expect me to be working all the time. That expectation doesn’t align with a caring environment. If I had additional resources to balance that expectation, or I had moments to unwind, I would feel much more like the university cared about me and was living its brand.

Former Social Media Manager

How We Can Help Our Teams Rest in the Holidays

  1. Encourage people to take time off — I think it’s important to encourage your teams to find time to get away. That doesn’t have to be long spurts. It can be a Friday here. An afternoon there. I started in June encouraging people to more regularly take time off. We can help our employees by creating a culture that breaks are a good thing and are okay.
  2. Share the big things in January ahead of time — Creatives love to know what’s coming, so make sure your team knows the next steps when you return from a longer holiday break. This can help them set expectations on other projects, which allows them to properly unplug.
  3. OOO alerts — Encourage your teams to log out. Set an out of office alert. Log out of the email client. Snooze the chat client. Your team may look to you to tell them it’s okay to turn these off.
  4. Set Norms — Explain to your team that if you need them during a rest time, how you’ll contact them. That way they don’t feel pressure to constantly check the various notifications and then don’t ever fully rest.
  5. Remember there are all kinds of rest — Physical, Social, Emotional, Sensory, Creative, etc. That means how your team finds rest may look different. For some, they may sit at home. Others may go and do. When you return, instead of asking everyone “what you did over the break,” ask people how they found rest. That language includes everyone and allows for a broader conversation about rest and its importance.

Thinking about rest is something we don’t always recognize as leaders that can help our teams. I hope you’ll join me in getting and encouraging rest this holiday season.

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