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Workplace Oasis Time: A Q&A with Marilyn Paul

In a culture that demands working excess hours, author Marilyn Paul suggests taking a day a week as an oasis of rest from work.

Marilyn Paul’s best time in her week is spent with her family. These moments help the author and consultant succeed at living her truth — practicing a Sabbath, as she calls it, every week to rejuvenate from overworking, busy schedules and stress.

Marilyn Paul, author of “An Oasis in Time: How a Day of Rest Can Save Your Life."

Marilyn Paul, author of “An Oasis in Time: How a Day of Rest Can Save Your Life”

Her latest book, “An Oasis in Time: How a Day of Rest Can Save Your Life,” focuses on the positives of taking a day a week as an oasis of rest from work. Workforce intern Ariel Parrella-Aureli spoke to Paul about the work benefits of taking breaks and her advice for employers and HR leaders to help employees find their “oasis time” in a culture that demands working excess hours.

Workforce: Where does the idea to constantly work come from?

Marilyn Paul: We have become used to being consumers and producers. If you combine the inventive, innovative streak with the marketing and producing element and you add that into the competitive way to get ahead and do, do, do, you have what we are in — you throw in digital tech and we are overwhelmed. Even 2,500 years ago, as this notion of a Sabbath came into being, there was a need to stop the everyday and turn toward something else — if it’s awe, purpose, or if religious and feel themselves turning toward God; we need time for that.

WF: What’s the challenge here for HR practitioners?

Paul: The question for a lot of HR people whom I’ve worked with is how do you start the conversation in your workplace so that people come around to the idea that frequent breaks, staying off email on the weekend, all contribute to increased productivity? Part of the challenge is to shift the norms of your workplace so people really grasp what good rest is. If they are resting, they are not scrolling through their Twitter feed; they are going out for a walk, practicing yoga or having a healthy snack.

WF: What advice do you give to people always working? 

Paul: It is counter-cultural but what we all need to do is look for examples of people who know how to rest well, and that doesn’t mean they are flying to Hawaii to the beach. We use busy as a badge of honor. If we are busy it means we are important. If we are running ourselves in the ground it means we are valiant. What I want to help do is change that to say we are not going to squeeze in our rest and our reflection; we are going to embrace ample playtime because that is what makes life worthwhile. There are people all around us who understand the value of this oasis time. We have to find each other and help each other off the clock and off the hook.

Ariel Parrella-Aureli is a Workforce intern. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.