All sorts of techniques to increase your own productivity are very popular nowadays. Optimizing the execution of work, time management, prioritization – all these are designed to maximize labor productivity. But in the crazy rhythm of our modern lives, many of us forget what rest and relaxation means. Even on the weekends our heads are often occupied with work problems and worries. But by constantly overworking and denying ourselves rest and sleep, we thereby reduce our own productivity and, most importantly, do not get pleasure from life. No one gets a second chance with the "work on mistakes" we’ve made, though.
Usually when we decide to get into the business of optimizing our workflow, we spend a lot of time prioritizing, concentrating on no more than one task at a time more effectively dividing our time between work, family, friends, sports, sleep, etc. There’s no question, all of this is very useful in daily life and work. But behind all this hassle, we’re missing the most important point : we woefully underestimate the importance of breaks Real, genuine breaks.
Here is a life situation, which is familiar to many people (and some people have been living like this for years): because of the large amount of things to do one accumulates sleeplessness, the daily whirlwind drains energy, fatigue overcomes never-ending fatigue. And you want to run away somewhere where there are no computers, Internet and phones. But it’s worth to be really out of access to IT-benefits, as there is a feeling of absence of something important, impossibility to solve possible problems which can happen in our absence. Without the Internet and a computer, you begin to feel as if you have no hands.
We wear ourselves out.
According to LexisNexis study. , "Employees spend an average of 51% of their work time retrieving and sorting information instead of actually using it in their work." Just think about it. This brings to mind the analogy of sports: if you train the same muscle group every day, soon they simply stop developing. Rest is just as (if not more) important for them as the exercise itself. And our brain works the same way.
Also, we don’t usually think about the tremendous amount of energy it takes to keep our brains working intensely for long periods of time. Have you ever noticed how difficult it can be to concentrate on something when you are physically tired? By scientists say our brain is the most "voracious" organ, consuming up to 20% of all energy produced. According to other experiments , there is a suggestion that the brain never really rests at all. According to Chris Miall, a neuroscientist at the University of Birmingham (yes, that British scientist), "The brain only rests when you’re dead." In a constant information-intensive environment, from morning to night, we have to constantly memorize and keep a lot of data in our heads. And it’s just exhausting.
We usually can’t stop in time
We are lucky: in Russia there are a lot of holidays during the year, which are days off. But many of us don’t use all of our annual vacation – urgent/important projects, difficult relations with our bosses, no one to replace us, no money for a vacation… Sound familiar? And even when we finally go to warm our bones on the beach or barbecue at the cottage, we regularly check our work email, carry on correspondence, solve work issues on the phone. Even without checking email while on vacation, we are constantly able to access our inbox through our smartphone/tablet/laptop, and we fight that temptation. "No, I’m not going to ruin my vacation, I’m resting!". But what kind of vacation can we talk about if our thoughts are at work?
And here again, it’s appropriate to remind you of the need to give your brain a rest. And it’s not just a good night’s sleep, a few minutes of meditation, or entertainment. The brain needs a real, complete, long rest. This is the only way to prevent emotional and professional burnout.
Attention is not rubber
High technology itself is by no means a bad thing. But in a situation where we are rapidly "overgrown" with gadgets, round the clock connected to the Internet and to each other, flooding us with all kinds of notifications and messages, our attention is not even diluted, but simply atomized like an aerosol. It is quite possible that even reading this text now, you are not giving it your full attention, not thinking about every sentence. You probably have many bookmarks open in your browser, too, which you control with the edge of your consciousness. Notifications of new emails come in, your smartphone vibrates and chimes, letting you know of new texts.
And this text is one of hundreds, if not thousands, of consumers of your attention.
Every time you think of something to do, read some text, or talk to someone, you devote part of your attention to this process. As a result, whether we like it or not, modern city dwellers are exposed daily to an overabundance of all sorts of "irritants" that need attention.
Modern technology has permeated almost every aspect of our lives. At one time the New York Times published an entire series of articles that studied the effects of technology and gadgets on our brains.
"Free space and silence foster the necessary state to take a step back and appreciate one’s life, to make unexpected connections and wait for sudden inspiration. Paradoxically, we need it to complete any work."
When we relax or indulge in daydreaming, our brain does not stop or slow down. Our consciousness and attention, however, come to a state of rest. This time of "downtime, " like other forms of daily rest, determines the flow of many important mental processes This is why a short day’s sleep, in particular, is so important, although it is not a panacea. As writes Ferris Jabr:
"During ‘downtime’ attention and motivation are ‘replenished’ and productivity and ingenuity are increased. This helps to achieve higher levels of productivity and streamline memories in daily life. In contrast, a ‘wandering’ tired mind loses its sense of time, our ability to remember, to learn to plan."
So what is the difference between a vacation away from the familiar environment and being out of touch with the outside world and the Internet?
You can name five key points :
1) Make as few decisions as possible Try to relax in a place where you don’t have to make all kinds of decisions-where to go, what to do, who to see, what to eat, etc.
2) Don’t keep track of time Don’t even take your watch with you, and hide your phone in a far pocket or at the bottom of your bag. Eat only when you are hungry, not when you "need to." Sleep when you are tired. Don’t figure out what time it is; don’t think about how much time has passed since an event.
3) Play games, solve riddles and puzzles Cards, board games, crossword puzzles, whatever. Plenty of research confirms the benefits of such entertainment and the mental and physical stimulation associated with it.
4) Don’t think about bad or unpleasant things It helps a lot to contemplate : water, rocks, sky, stars. It promotes quiet reflection, memories of what makes you happy, what you aspire to in the future. Avoid thinking about things that scare you, disturb you, pressure you, make you angry, etc. No thoughts of negativity, in a word.
5) Spend as much time as possible in nature Perhaps one of the most important conditions for a "proper" and refreshing vacation. Moreover, this transpires from the peculiarities of our brain physiology : "A walk in the woods is like a vacation for the prefrontal cortex.". After all, we were once wild animals, and wildlife is more beneficial to us than anything else, no matter how much we lock ourselves away in metropolitan areas and apartment hives. Nature "wakes up" all our feelings, suppressed and stifled in everyday life, stimulates all kinds of sections of the brain.
Notice how seldom we do any of these things, even during a "normal" vacation? To hen we cut off all contact with the outside world and return to nature, only then do we really begin to think It is in such moments that we finally find the opportunity to sift out the information swarming in our heads and begin to process it, to use it, to gain knowledge. We begin to experience life.
Our usual hectic life can be compared to shoving a huge piece of meat into your mouth and quickly swallowing it, barely tasting it, and then feeling the heaviness in your stomach. But it is much better to sit quietly and slowly enjoy the taste, feel every ingredient, every flavor.