Think about Formula 1 races for a moment. It’s not the faster car that wins the race but the team that implements the best strategy for refuelling and tyre changing. The race is not won by the driver who drives the fastest for the longest without stopping.
The same applies to your productivity mindset. You often feel like that the only way to achieve things is to keep working till you drop.
This simply isn’t effective. It might have been once when all we did was repeat mundane repetitive tasks such as screwing the caps onto toothpaste tubes in factories but you don’t have a business like that.
If you’re going to get the best return on investment from your input then you must avoid exhaustion and limit the amount you work to a point at which you can recover and start again to be more effective.
The best athletes work incredibly hard but they also incorporate as much rest into their routines as there is training. Your body’s muscles need an opportunity to refuel and recover and so does your brain.
If you’re running or lifting weights your body sends you signals in the form of pain, that it’s time to stop. When we’re working our minds do the same but we mask them through sugar intake or caffeine. Or worse we override them. We dip into our emergency reserves accessing adrenaline and cortisone – our stress hormones.
This might be fine in the middle of a crisis but if your business is lurching from one crisis to another then you have other things to worry about and in the long term will cause health issues.
The most effective workers practice a regime of 10 – 15 minutes rest every 60 – 90 minutes. You might think that you have ninja like focus and can go for hours at a time but just try breaking your work time up into chunks with proper rest in between. You’ll notice the difference it makes to your productivity and how you feel.
Make time to follow your intense bursts of work with a different activity that reenergises you. Following work with more “easier” work such as emails won’t be an energy giver, it will continue to deplete your battery in the same way that following a run you don’t do sprint work.
Go for a quick walk, or just get outside for 10 minutes. Crank up some music or just sit and breathe. Whether it’s active rest or passive rest, change your focus even if briefly and then crack on with a different task.
The other bonus you will find is that often our minds will be wrestling away with a problem that just seems irresolvable. Taking yourself away from tackling the issue directly and allowing your brain to approach it sub consciously will often create a light bulb moment, pushing the solution to the front of your mind.