One of the questions I frequently have to respond to when I engage individuals and groups about the importance of “Time Out” is how long should a Time Out last?
Given man’s ultimate desire for perfection, this question is understandable. However, to enter a Time Out session with the ultimate goal of perfection, defeats the purpose of the practice. In reality, Time Out sessions can vary in length from seconds, to minutes, to hours, to days. In my practical experience, the longer the period assigned to your Time Out, the greater the depth of clarity and focus that emerges from the session.
One individual who I greatly admire and have observed is Ambassador Beatrice Welters, the US Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago. Her interactions are punctuated with miniscule periods of Time Out – periods during which it appears that the cerebral messages that she is receiving are internalised and transformed into objective and politically correct responses. Maybe this is a practice that many of today’s leaders should indeed adopt. It would certainly minimise the occasions on which in hindsight, responses may have been differently constructed.
Harvard Business school has recently released research findings that indicate that participants in an eight week mindfulness meditation programme appear to undergo measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. Researchers found increased gray-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.
Generally though, it is suggested developing the discipline of a daily twenty minute Time Out.
So to respond directly to the question “how long should a Time Out last?”, I would say firstly, focus on developing the discipline of taking a pause each day – take a Time Out…….. the intentional cessation of an incomplete task – irrespective of the time allotted. Drop me a line and let me know the impact.
Judy Joseph Mc Sween is the Principal Consultant/CEO of Meredith Mc Sween International – facilitating internal transformation in individuals, teams and organisations. Contact Judy for information on her “Time Out Corporate Interventions” Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 684 9827