Why You Must Take A Break.

The subject of time management and productivity often seems about how to do more and more work. However, the real purpose is the opposite. Becoming better at managing your time and improving your productivity is about understanding there is a limited amount of time. What you do within that time needs to count towards something meaningful.

But, while getting work done and attending to your commitments is necessary, one area that has recently received a lot of attention is the need for rest. If you want to perform at your best consistently, you need to balance your work with enough rest.

Your body has a natural way of forcing you to rest. It’s called sleep, and when you need sleep, your body will put you to sleep. In the past, we worked in the fields all day, physically exhausting ourselves. Then, when it got dark, we slept. It was a simple life.

However, most of us are no longer gathering and preparing our food each day. We don’t need to grow our own crops and raise animals. The work, most of us, do today is not physically tiring. Instead, we find ourselves using our mental energy more than our physical one, which is relatively new to humans.

Hundreds of years ago, decisions were simple. When is the best time to plant our crops and harvest them were the major decisions we made. Today, the decisions we need to make are multitudinous. We are playing a different game, which means we need to apply a different set of strategies.

Making all these mental decisions each day carries a cost. It diminishes our energy levels. It’s why when you spend all day in meetings and sitting at a computer screen, you get home feeling exhausted. You’ve done nothing physically to cause the exhaustion. Instead, you’ve used all your mental energy, and it’s just as exhausting.

This is why you need to build rest into your days. You need to give your mind a rest from all that decision-making. Working through your lunch break is not healthy; neither is getting home and spending two or three hours in the evening dealing with your email or putting the finishing touches to your presentation. Getting away from your work environment and outside in nature is regenerative. It breaks up the day, and it gives your mind a rest.

The first step with this is to recognise when you are mentally tired. This is not quite as simple as recognising when we are physically exhausted. When we are physically tired, our bodies slow down, and muscles ache. Being mentally tired is a lot more subtle. Mental tiredness causes us to procrastinate, make silly mistakes (typos), and focusing on something challenging. We often put this down to just not being in the mood.

Once we recognise we are mentally tired, we need to stop and take a break. Get outside and walk, do some physical exercise, or have a nap. The worst thing you can do is push through. Pushing through won’t lead to getting the work done. Instead, it will lead to mistakes, errors in judgment and a slowing down of what you can do.

Winston Churchill understood this. He was famous for taking naps. He’d go to bed around 3:30 pm every day and sleep for 90 minutes. He claimed this allowed him to get a day and a half’s worth of work done each day. How? Because that long nap in the afternoon enabled him to have the mental energy to write his books and articles late into the evening. He was a prolific writer, writing 43 books and thousands of articles in his lifetime.

Another area of mental ability to be aware of is your creative energy. You possess a deep well of creative energy that you can tap into. However, as with all types of energy, this needs refilling from time to time. You can spend a week or two developing a pitch for a product idea, but once you complete the pitch, you will have drained your creative energy. You need to take a break. This is why many innovative companies operate a six-week on, two-week off project cycle. This is where you spend six weeks working intensively on a project and then take a two-week break where you work on the more mundane, non-creative work or take a holiday.

Our understanding of our limited mental energies is still in its infancy. Knowledge work is a relatively recent invention. We learned to recognise physical exhaustion and understand the consequences of pushing beyond our physical limits; we are only beginning to see what the effects of mental fatigue does to us. It weakens our immune system, leaving us sick. It causes mood swings and ultimately affects us physically through high levels of stress and a lack of sleep, likely causing increases in diseases like diabetes and cancer.

If you want to be performing at your best every day, you need to learn from elite athletes. They understand that bouts of intense physical activity must be followed by periods of rest. An Olympic marathon runner does not run another marathon the day after competing in a championship race. They back off their training for a month or two to allow their bodies to recover. Professional rugby players do not go out and play another game the day after a match. They rest; they restore their physical energy.

We need to be doing the same with our mental energies. Certainly, push yourself for a few days, but be mindful of having a rest and giving your brain a chance to recover, so you can come back and perform at your best again. Don’t be tempted to work weekends. Instead, watch a film, go for a walk with your family or take a drive out into the countryside.

Performing at your best day after day requires sufficient sleep and rest. Once you understand this, you will feel happier, more fulfilled, and you will quickly learn what work is important and what is not.

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit those clapping hands below many times👏 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

My purpose is to help as many people as I can live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

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I help people learn to manage their lives and time better so they can experience joy and build a life they are truly proud of. www.carlpullein.com

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Carl Pullein

Carl Pullein

I help people learn to manage their lives and time better so they can experience joy and build a life they are truly proud of. www.carlpullein.com

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