Reminder to self: Stop

An ideal to take a break (Mykonos patio with view of harbor and beach)

I highly recommend a recent NY Times article by Tony Schwartz titled “Relax! You’ll Be More Productive.”

If you’re like me – often eating lunch at your desk; not always using all your allotted vacation time – you’ll probably agree the article is full of good reminders.

The key point of the article is that while it’s common to work longer and longer hours to get more done, many of us would actually increase our productivity (and presumably our creativity) by resting more.

“Paradoxically, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less. A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.”

I definitely agree about afternoon naps. I previously worked in Japan in an environment that was open to short naps. Closing my eyes when needed and sleeping for 10-15 minutes left me much more energetic than another cup of coffee or tea would have.

Companies that embrace napping – perhaps only a minority of progressive companies in the U.S. – are on the right track.

A concept discussed in the article I was less familiar with is that “during the day we move from a state of alertness progressively into physiological fatigue approximately every 90 minutes” and consequently “working in 90-minute intervals turns out to be a prescription for maximizing productivity.”

I couldn’t guess the number of days I’ve pushed through an entire afternoon, 1pm to 6pm, if not longer, without a meaningful break.

I’m interested in seeing the effect of spacing out two meaningful breaks during this period – if possible, short walks outside or a few trips up and down the office building staircase.

“Relax! You’ll Be More Productive” is currently ranked as the NY Time’s most emailed article over the past 30 days. With business culture seemingly hurtling toward an ever-more-breakneck pace, it’s understandable why.