Not too long ago, a friend asked me something along the lines of “How do you push forward when you don’t have much energy.” That’s a great question, and it affects all of us. Sometimes, we aren’t exactly in a good frame of mind for work. Everything seems forced, you just aren’t in it, and sleep is much more appealing than being ‘productive’. Coincidentally, the New York Times published a story on February 9 2013 called “Relax! You’ll Be More Productive,” by Tony Schwartz. It’s an interesting piece, and confirms that sleep and down-time are much better than a strict go-go-go attitude.
For university students, young professionals, mothers, fathers and others that feel crunched for time, one of the key ingredients to success is simple: sleep. And relaxation. Recently, I’ve started to think critically about the word “productive,” which is used rather frequently in our society. “I had a productive day,” or “I really didn’t have a productive week.” These are only some of the ways in which this word is used. To me, productivity implies that we need to be working on a 24-7 basis. We need to be producing, and there is little time to sit back. This is especially true of those that are in leadership positions, have kids, who run businesses or who even have a tremendous amount of studying on their plate. Productivity is equated with goodness. A lack of productivity, on the other hand, spells failure.
I don’t agree with this assumption.
Since reading Jonah Lehrer’s book Imagine, it became painfully clear that living a good life requires relaxation. In other words, nothing time, where you create you space and clear your mind. This life philosophy led to the idea for The Wanderer, for a new magazine launching later this week on Friday February 15, several websites and two books. The ideas for all of these initiatives took place on walks to the grocery store, where I would often recharge after an hour or so of writing or study. Moreover, it is during slow walks around the U of A campus that most interesting ideas come to me. When you relax, you open yourself to creativity, to those “Aha!” moments.
In conclusion, for the next time you’re not feeling too good, why not find a place to nap on campus, or perhaps take a short stroll outside? Breaking your work into chunks – with rest at the end of each session – might just be the best means to whatever your goals may be.
Indeed, as Tony Schwartz writes, “When we’re renewing, we’re truly renewing, so when we’re working, we can really work.”
CC photograph courtesy of epSos.de on Flickr.