It may seem counterintuitive that rest is so important to productivity. But if you really think about it, you get more done when you feel better rested, right? What if you put the priority on feeling rested so that you could be more productive each day? Not meaning that you get more rest in order to work more…you get more rest so you can be more effective when working and possibly reduce how much work you need to do. Rest will mean different things to different people, whether it’s listening to music, getting more sleep, taking a walk or whatever else rejuvenates you. Below are 5 small ways you can tweak your habits to start prioritizing rest.
1. 90 Minutes
There are many studies that show that our productivity goes down after a certain point, and it’s usually around the 90-minute mark. So, consider only scheduling meetings or project time for 90 minutes. After 90 minutes, take a 5-10 minute break to get up, move around and focus on something else. Then you can come back to what you were doing. That break will refresh your mind, kind of like restarting a computer. After that, you can start another productive 90 minutes.
2. Plan Your Getaway
There are all kinds of “getaways” that can help you prioritize rest. The short breaks we talked about in #1 are one kind of getaway. Another is taking a solid chunk of time for a lunch break. Whether it’s 30 minutes or 1 hour or more, make sure you take that significant break to prioritize rest and refueling in your day. Lastly, there are the true getaways – vacations and long weekends. Look over your calendar for the year: How many of those larger getaways have you taken? Are there stressful times of year that could benefit from an additional getaway? Make that a priority.
3. Cycles of Business
Every business has its own cycles, and if you’ve been doing what you do for many years, you probably have a good idea of those cycles. If you’re not sure, look back at the last few years to see if patterns emerge. Look at the slow times especially. How can you incorporate extra rest and reflection into those times? This is something I’ve struggled with (see my message above about ebb and flow), and I’m sure many of you can relate. Allow yourself to plan for those slow times and use them to prioritize rest by slowing your work pace, doing rejuvenating projects or even taking time off. If you’re new to your business or job, pay attention to what cycles emerge so you can find times to prioritize rest.
4. Schedule Your Time First
If you aren’t familiar with the analogy of the “big rocks,” here is a link to the original video. Your time and the things that are important to you and your health are the big rocks, so make sure you schedule those first in your calendar. Look at 2022 and figure out when you might want to take vacations or other smaller getaways. Block the time on the calendar! Even if plans change and dates shift, by putting those events on the calendar, you’re telling your subconscious that your rest and health are a priority, and your subconscious will find additional ways to help you prioritize the “big rocks.” All other appointments and projects should be scheduled around those all-important times for yourself and your family.
Sleep! We all know that “they” say to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. We also all know that it takes a lot of discipline to do so. I assure you that it’s worth building the habit, so let me give you a big reason, besides health, why getting enough sleep is critical and worth prioritizing. Studies have shown that productivity takes a big hit when someone is sleep-deprived. This goes back to what I said at the beginning of this article – The more rested you are, the more effective and productive you’ll be. And as you become more effective, you can get more done in a shorter amount of time! The number of hours of sleep needed is different for everyone, so consider taking a week or two to figure out how much sleep you need to feel refreshed and focused.
6. Your Devices Need Rest, Too!
I couldn’t let you go without mentioning technology! Don’t forget to give your devices (phone, tablet, computer) a rest once in a while. They need to refresh just like we do, but luckily they don’t need nearly as long to do so. For most technology, powering it off (not putting it to sleep – actually turned off) for a few minutes allows for all the rest it needs. I recommend doing this at least once a week – especially if you use the device a lot. And if a device is moving slowly, that’s probably an indication that it needs a break (maybe you do, too!), so turn off the power and take a couple of minutes to stretch and take time for yourself as well.
Can you commit to doing one of these things this week? You should start to see the benefits of adding more rest to your life pretty quickly. Pay attention – see what helps refresh you the most and boosts productivity.