Augusta Business Daily

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Mondays with Rick: R&R is important for successful business owners

Dr. Rick Franza, Professor of Management at the Hull College of Business, discusses a different, timely business topic each Monday in this column. This week, he talks about the value of rest and relaxation for business owners. The interview has been edited for clarity and impact.

ABD: We just got through with Spring Break and soon will be heading into summer vacation. But often, small business owners feel they can’t take a vacation – or even any break at all. How important is time off for relaxing and resting for small business owners?

Rick: No matter what work you do, it’s important, but it’s especially important for business owners because they’re often more stressed than most. If you don’t get that rest and relaxation – what I call recharging – you’re going to burn out. It goes back to that work-life balance everyone needs to have.

Business owners often get caught between if they work too much, they feel guilty about not spending time with their family, but if they spend time with their family, they feel guilty about not working on the business. Taking time for rest and relaxation is important to mental, emotional, and physical health. If you don’t, you won’t be operating at a good level of efficiency, you won’t be innovative – you’re not going to be at your best.

ABD: Sometimes when facing a tough business issue, it feels like we should just grind it out until it’s solved. But doesn’t a little R&R sometimes help resolve the issue?

Rick: Absolutely. When I was working on my Ph.D. dissertation, I always felt guilty when I wasn’t working on it. But then, I’d go for a run and, even though I wasn’t consciously thinking about it, things for the dissertation would just come to me.

Getting away just helps you think better. It clears the mind to better come up with new ideas or ways of looking at things. Sometimes we’re so close to the problem that we can’t see it.

ABD: Taking some R&R time doesn’t necessarily mean taking a lengthy beach vacation – it can be as little as a 15-minute break during the day, right?

Rick: There are all different lengths of breaks, and you need a portfolio of them, from breaks during your daily routine to vacations away. If you’re always working, you’ll be working sub-optimally.

People get stuck eating their lunch at their desks while they work. Sometimes that may be necessary, but it’s not a good idea all the time. People worry about what others think about them, but don’t worry about that.

Everybody is a little different – some may need breaks during the day, while others need more downtime at night. But everybody needs rest.

Sometimes a break to take a walk, eat lunch in the park, or take a nap – or perhaps all three – will recharge you for a more productive day.
ABD: You mentioned going on a run, which for me and I’m sure others doesn’t sound very relaxing. But what are some ideas for taking a break for rest and relaxation?

Rick: It can be an active rest, doing some activity like gardening, reading, doing crosswords. Variety is as important to your brain as rest. It can be simple short breaks from your daily routine, like going out for lunch, taking a walk, or even a power nap. Just giving your brain a rest can reduce stress and make you more productive.

It’s important to find out what works best for you and not care what anyone else thinks. Experiment. Learn about yourself. Just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it’ll work for you.

ABD: While daily breaks are great, it is sometimes important for you and your family to take a vacation away from everything. But we’re connected all the time with cell phones and the internet. How do you distance yourself from the business during that time?

Rick: That’s probably the trickiest part. I don’t think you can cut yourself off completely if you’re the business owner, but you can unplug for good portions of the day. When I went on vacation, I would catch up on emails at night, because if you let them pile up, you’ll be stressed out trying to catch up when you get back. If you have somebody you can trust to run the business and make good decisions, the longer you can go without checking in.

ABD: What about sleep? I know sometimes small business owners seem on the go almost 24 hours a day, especially when they start out.

Rick: Everyone needs their requisite amount of sleep, but that can be different for everybody. Some people can operate fine with less sleep than others. You’ve got to listen to your body and find what works best for you.

ABD: R&R doesn’t seem like much of a business topic, but it seems to be an important ingredient in business success.

Rick: It’s an important topic for a lot of small business owners. Their business can do fine, but they’re a wreck. We’re often critical of the younger generation and their work habits, which don’t seem as dedicated as those of us who are older. But maybe they’ve got the work-life balance figured out better than we do. The one thing we can all agree on is that everyone needs rest, but it’ll look different for everybody.

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