Find those built in breaks you didn't know you were missing.
In professional car racing, a “pit stop” serves as a lightning fast break for both the driver and the vehicle to rest, recover and recharge for the next leg of the race. On a cross country road trip, your pit stops serve the same purpose. In both cases the pit stop almost always includes a refueling of the vehicle, a moment for the driver to take a break from the intense focus of keeping the vehicle safely on the course, and a chance to do a systems inspection for anything that may have cropped up that will have a negative effect on the goal — to get to the finish line as quickly as possible.
If you think of your day as a race to the finish line, starting your engines when your alarm goes off in the morning and crossing the finish line when you close your eyes to sleep at night, how many pit stops, or opportunities to rest, recover and recharge are you giving yourself?
Chances are your answer is very few. Just as a race car that carries only enough fuel to get to the next pit stop can go faster because it’s not carrying the weight of excess fuel, you will go faster if you plan systematic points throughout your day to refuel yourself. It’s true that the team with a pit stop strategy at the top of a race is more likely to win, so give yourself a fighting chance to accomplish your goals with your own pit stop strategy in place and the discipline to see it through every time you start your engine.
Here are three pit stops to help you get started:
Pit stop #1: Errands
Leave your phone and your coworkers behind when you pop out to grab a cup of coffee or run a quick errand. Even though you will be in motion, you can use this time to allow your mind to rest and recover by giving yourself a break from external input. Since you’ve left your phone, you won’t be on the receiving end of texts, emails and other electronic communication, and leaving your coworkers behind gives you a break from interpersonal input too. What remains is open space to let your mind wander nowhere in particular, or to mull over something that may have been nagging at your subconscious all day. Whether you daydream about that cute pair of boots you saw the other day or solve a problem that’s been eating at you for weeks, simply inviting your mind to wander will leave you feeling refreshed when you are back at your desk.
Pit stop #2: Commuting Time
Make your subway car, taxi or sedan your sanctuary. Aside from maintaining an awareness to the conditions around you for safety, try saying no to other noisemakers and distractions. Turn off the radio and pause your playlist to embrace relative quiet. The cessation of audio input gives you a minute to tune your attention inward and do an all systems check. What might be standing in the way of accomplishing your goals in the next 24 hours? How can you go around that obstacle? Process your hectic morning and let it go. Give yourself a chance to rest and recover so that when you arrive where you’re going, you arrive with a full tank of gas.
Pit stop #3: Bathroom breaks
Bathroom breaks are nature’s built in rest and recovery opportunities, so take advantage of them! Wash your hands a tiny bit slower. Take a second and secure that runaway hair and apply your lipstick. Refill your water bottle on the way back to your desk. You’ve already left your desk, so use the time to get yourself ready for the next leg of the race.
As you move through your day, be mindful of routine moments you can dedicate to rest and recovery. Most pit stops in professional racing are about 10 seconds long so encourage yourself to use that walk to and from the printer wisely. As nourishing as it is to find a bank of time to dedicate to rest and recovery in the form of a yoga class or long walk, it is equally nourishing, and likely more within reach, to embrace a pit stop strategy that will keep you supported all day long.