We push hard. At work. At play. On our resolutions. We feel that we have a near limitless amount of fuel we can burn through. We don’t take a break or rest. “There’s no time for that,” we tell ourselves. Then the burnout happens. Rarely do we ever come back and get back into the grind after that happens. Resolution over.
We need routines and systems. Not aimlessly working until there’s nothing left. There should be as much if not more attention put into the road map around when to take those rest breaks. I work for 30-60 minute blocks and then take 5-10 rest periods. As a runner I build in rest days where I don’t run at all and give my legs a break.
When we do get the road map out, we should plan our toughest burn or grind in the first few hours of our day. Not the middle or end. We work the most deliberate early on than later. And, we do that best in short sprints. It’s been proven working intensely for a short period of time is more productive then working long hours. Getting more done sooner in the day also gives you back the time for others things that can give you back energy. Like playing that the new Switch game or reading a favorite book.
What you do during those breaks matters as well. Instead of looking through a stressful facebook feed that brings anxiety into your break, start with a walk around outside or around the office. It enhances the relationships you have because you’re being seen and as you notice things around you it can spark creativity.
Sleep is underrated. Especially with the amount of connection we have to everything. Distractions, if we let them, can happen at any time. Even at night. To get a good night’s rest I’ve created a time where my phone goes on lock down by itself to the point I cannot use any apps. It’s a pain in the butt to get it to return to normal. Such a pain I’ve trained myself to just put it down because it’s not worth the headache. The timing is about 30 minutes before I should be in bed. I went from 4-5 hours of sleep per day to 6-7 hours per day. It does wonders for my creativity to get that extra 1-2 hours of sleep back.
Exercise which we would think is in the opposite direction of not becoming burned out, is a great way to recharge your cognitive performance. Your brain actually increases in size as you become more physically fit. More brain growth of course can become more intellectual horsepower. Scientist have found that exercise helps the body produce neurotrophins. Those of course are responsible for neuron growth in our brains.
The best breaks I’ve taken though have been doing my favorite hobbies. Nothing beats a mindless game on my Switch every now and then. Sometimes I reward myself with a couple episodes of my favorite TV show as a break. All work and no play they say makes one dull.
Overwork is a epidemic. It’s not a way to produce or bring the best version of ourselves to work. Taking some time to recover and refuel is a absolute key to plan in your road map to winning your resolutions or work goals. Break nurtures our creativity. It’s not about taking a break and just hitting the pause button. Get up for a walk, play a game, or give yourself a fun break reward. You will find yourself more than ready for the challenges in the next round.