People often come to me for consultation regarding their reduced productivity. I usually start those conversations with asking when the last time they really rested was. It may seem nonsensical but in order to produce, sometimes we have to first stop trying to be productive for a period of time.
Everything has a rhythm and for many components of nature, there is a sleep-wake, dark-light, hunt-rest, expend-conserve pattern. This rhythm leaves time for rejuvenating and replenishing and those of us that have spent time in the eastern philosophy mindset consider this imperative as it is a cultural and societally accepted norm.
Without getting philosophical, there are physiological reasons why these rest periods are critical. When we are fatigued, we get less creative, less innovative, less flexible. When we are producing, we are built to believe we are headed in the right direction, churn through, and reproduce our production. It is only by stepping back, observing, conserving, and reserving energy can we move back in creating.
From an absence comes an answer.
Often, I receive pushback from the burned-out or fatigued when I advise taking a break. They, like most, have adsorbed our societal narrative of ‘work hard, always’. Frankly, the opposite is true, we have to let our foot off the gas to gain the strength to stomp on it again.
Taking a break is about practice. Try out a new approach and evaluate the results. You will see that momentum only lasts through the low hanging fruit phases. To create and re-define yourself, you need the burst of energy that rest brings. Take a break, even if it is a very short one. Take a rest, even if it feels like you shouldn’t. You will see that you bounce back stronger, faster, and smarter.
Remember, once you get your energy back, schedule the rhythm and the breaks incrementally. It is a topic for another day why our bodies don’t do that for us, but they don’t. Schedule the rest periods and commit to them. You will be far more productive and resilient when you do.
Tips for taking a break
- Check in with your energy, be honest.
- When you start to feel depleted, don’t push through, take a break
- Know your symptoms of fatigue so you can catch them sooner
- Be willing to go against the grain
- Do not defend your energy to anyone, including yourself.
- Evaluate what happens after you take a break.
- Schedule breaks incrementally, don’t wait for you to need one.