Today’s world is moving at a breakneck pace – sometimes to our detriment, particularly in the workplace. For many of us, it seems like there is never enough time in the day to complete all the tasks we need to do. But it’s vital for our performance, not to mention overall well-being, that we take a second and pause occasionally.
That might almost seem like a sinful action in today’s always-on mentality, yet it might just be the key to our success in the future. Slow and steady wins the race, just ask the hare.
Taking breaks prevents us from getting burnt out. If we’re constantly consumed by work all the time, it is very likely that we will quickly become exhausted by it. And once you get tired, productivity takes a nosedive. Founder and President of EXOS, a human performance company, Mark Verstegen has come up with a formula that we all should know: “work plus rest equals performance.”[i] Athletes know it is absolutely vital for them to get a proper amount of rest if they want to stay at the top of their game. We must also take this into account so that we can produce high-quality results to achieve our goals at work.
At Action Mary, we believe that rest not only helps us perform better, but it also helps us stay in the game longer. Athletes who push too hard oftentimes get injured and the same can happen when a person is working too many long hours. Our brains are powerful but delicate things. If we don’t take proper care of them, it leads to unhealthy psychological effects. We have all witnessed a toddler throw an epic tantrum just because they were tired. Unfortunately, this is also true of adults, but sometimes with more serious consequences (insert conference room meltdown here). Thankfully there’s a simple fix: get more rest.
In fact, The National Sleep Foundation recommends a short, 20-30 minutes nap to boost alertness and performance. Their site also describes a NASA study on drowsy military pilots and astronauts, which found that a 40-minute nap increased performance by 34% and alertness by 100%[ii].
Taking a break from work can even inspire creativity. Recently, Nina Weihrauch, a social media manager at Adidas, wrote an article entitled “Give Me a Break! The Power of Taking a Break at work”, in which she analyzed the David Burkus study from the Harvard Business Review which analyzed how “Eureka” moments occur. She writes, “switching to unrelated work boosts creativity and generates more ideas when going back to the original task.”[iii] So if you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall and can’t come up with any new ideas for the project your working on, take a breather. Give yourself time to do what feels most restorative, whether taking a nap or switching to another activity.
make sure to slow down every once in a while. When we’re not moving a million
miles an hour, it opens up space to recharge. Beyond feeling more rested,
slowing down gives us time to pause and reflect. Are you on the path you need
to be to achieve your goals? Are you happy with where you’re at? What changes
do you need to make in order to live the life you want? Are you spending enough
time with your family? When’s the last time you got together with your friends
and just hung out? Go ahead, take a second. You never know what ideas and
inspiration could come from it.