Driving back from a business trip to Chattanooga in May, I was surrounded by lush green. The rolling forests along Interstate 24 are stunningly beautiful and made my heart slow as I watched them go by. At times I got a glimpse of a stream ending in a waterfall and I thought about exiting and finding a way to explore it. Alas, I had on heels and hadn’t thought to bring appropriate hiking gear, my mind focused wholly on the agenda for the business meeting.

I slowed and moved to the right lane, wanting to take it all in.

When my cell phone rang, vibrating my wrist, I was quickly back in work mode and spent the next forty-five minutes only barely noticing the birds that swooped and dived around the shining water of the Chattahoochee. When I pulled into my driveway and parked, I sat for another five minutes, finishing a call while the bluebirds flitted around.

I paused before entering my home, feeling drawn to the sounds from outside. When was the last time I took a day – or even half a day off – without technology? I couldn’t remember and felt a bit of hypocrisy guilt coming on. I regularly preached the importance of taking time to unplug fully but had not walked the walk in a while.

I logged on to my computer and checked my calendar, looking for empty blocks I could expand for scheduled time off on a regular basis. As I added the entries into our HR system, I felt a waive of relaxation come over me just knowing that I was planning the time off. I added the entries in my calendar and titled them ‘clarity breaks’, having listened to an audio book that used that language.

My mind began to shift from work tasks to what I would do with my first clarity break:

  1. Not bring my phone
  2. Be in nature
  3. Wonder around a thrift shop
  4. Go to a garden store

When we take time off, we come back more energized, appreciative and clear-headed. As a leader, I need to model this and share that sometimes it is hard to do but that it is important for mental and physical health. Signing off of my computer for a clarity break now. I hope you schedule them, too.

– Becky Sharpe, President & CEO