Relaxation is the key to high productivity

All kinds of techniques for increasing your own productivity are very popular now. Optimization of work execution, time management, prioritization – all this is intended to maximize labor productivity. But in the crazy pace of our modern life, many of us forget what rest and relaxation are. Even on weekends, our heads are often preoccupied 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. Although no one will have a second attempt with the done “work on mistakes”.

Usually, when we decide to optimize our workflow, we spend a lot of time on prioritizing, focusing on doing no more than one task at a time, more efficiently allocating time between work, family, friends, sports, sleep, etc. No doubt, all this is very useful in everyday life and work. But with all this hassle, we are missing a crucial point: we sorely underestimate the importance of breaks . Real, real breaks. Here is a life situation that is familiar to very many (and someone generally lives like this for years): due to the large volume of cases, lack of sleep accumulates, the daily whirlwind depletes energy, and persistent fatigue overcomes. And I want to escape somewhere where there are no computers, the Internet and phones. But it is worth being really out of access to IT benefits, as there is a feeling of the absence of something important, the impossibility of solving possible problems that may happen in our absence. Without the Internet and a computer, you begin to feel like no hands. 

We wear ourselves out

According to LexisNexis research , “Workers spend an average of 51% of their work time retrieving and sorting information, rather than actually using it in their work.” Just think about it. This suggests an analogy with sports: if you train the same muscle group every day, then soon they will simply stop developing. Rest for them is as important (if not more) than the exercise itself. And our brain works in the same way. In addition, we usually do not think at all about what a colossal amount of energy is required to ensure long-term intensive work of the brain. Have you noticed how difficult it can be to focus on something when you are physically tired? According to scientists , our brain is the most “voracious” organ, consuming up to 20% of all generated energy. According to other experiments , there is an assumption that the brain never rests for real. According to Chris Miall, a neurologist at the University of Birmingham (yes, the same British scientist), “the brain only rests when you are dead.” In the conditions of constant intensive flow of information, from morning to evening, we have to constantly remember and keep in mind a lot of data. And it’s just draining. 

We usually can’t stop in time

We are lucky: in Russia during the year there are many holidays that are weekends. But at the same time, many of us do not fully use our annual vacation – urgent / important projects, difficult relationships with the authorities, there is no one to replace, there is no money for vacation … Sound familiar? And even when we finally go to warm the bones on the beach or fry kebabs at the dacha, we regularly check our work mail, carry on correspondence, and solve work issues by phone. Even without checking emails while on vacation, we constantly have the opportunity to log into our mailbox via a smartphone / tablet / laptop, and we fight this temptation. “No, I will not spoil my vacation, I am resting!” But what kind of rest can we talk about if our thoughts are at work?

And here again it is appropriate to recall the need to give the brain rest. And it’s not limited to a good night’s sleep, a few minutes of meditation, or entertainment. The brain needs a real, full, long rest. This is the only way to prevent emotional and professional burnout. 

Attention is not rubber

High tech itself is by no means bad. But in a situation where we are rapidly “overgrowing” with gadgets, 24/7 connected to the Internet and to each other, inundating us with all kinds of notifications and messages, our attention is not even blurred, but simply sprayed like an aerosol. It is quite possible that even while reading this text now you do not pay all your attention to it, do not ponder over every sentence. Surely you also have many bookmarks open in your browser, which you control from the edge of your consciousness. Notifications of new letters arrive, the smartphone vibrates and tinkles, informing about new SMS. And this text is one of hundreds, if not thousands, of consumers of your attention. Every time you remember something that needs to be done, reading a text or talking to someone, you give this process part of your attention. As a result, whether we like it or not, modern city dwellers are daily exposed to an excessive amount of all kinds of “irritants” that need to be addressed. Modern technology has permeated almost every aspect of our lives. At one time, the New York Times published a series of articles that examined the impact of technology and gadgets on our brain.  

“Free space and silence contribute to the acquisition of the necessary state in order to take a step back and evaluate your life, for making unexpected connections and waiting for sudden inspiration. Paradoxically, we need it to complete any work. “

When we relax or indulge in daydreaming, our brains don’t stop and slow down. However, our consciousness and attention come to rest. From this time of “downtime”, as well as from other forms of daytime rest, the course of many important mental processes depends . Therefore, in particular, a short nap is so important, although it is not a panacea. As Ferris Jabr writes :

“During downtime, attention and motivation“ replenishes ”, productivity and inventiveness increase. It helps you achieve higher levels of productivity and streamline memories in your daily life. On the contrary, a “wandering” tired mind loses its sense of time, our ability to memorize and learn to plan decreases. “

So what is the difference between a vacation away from the usual environment and without communication with the outside world and the Internet?

There are 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, whom 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 in the bottom of your bag. Eat only when you are hungry, not when “necessary.” Sleep when tired. Do not think about what time it is, do not think how much time has passed since the moment of some event. 3) Play games, solve riddles and puzzles . Cards, board games, crosswords, whatever. Numerous studies support the benefits of this kind of entertainment and the associated mental and physical stimulation. 4) Don’t think bad or unpleasant . Contemplation helps a lot: water, rocks, sky, stars. It promotes calm reflection, memories of what makes you happy, what you aspire to in the future. Avoid thinking about things that scare you, bother you, crush you, make you angry, etc. No negative thoughts, in a word. 5) Spend as much time as possible in nature . Perhaps one of the most important conditions for a “correct” and refreshing rest. And this stems from the peculiarities of the physiology of our brain: “A walk in the forest is like a vacation for the prefrontal cortex ” After all, we were once wild animals, and living nature acts on us more beneficially than anything else, no matter how we lock ourselves in megacities and apartment hives. In nature, all our senses “wake up”, suppressed and drowned out in everyday life, all kinds of brain sections are stimulated. Have you noticed how rarely we do any of the above, even during a “regular” vacation? By hen we completely breaks off contacts with the outside world, and return to nature, only then will we begin to really think . It is at such moments that we finally get the opportunity to weed out the information swarming in our head, and begin to process it, use it, gain knowledge. We begin to feel life. Our usual hectic life can be compared to how if “on the run” we stuff into our mouth and quickly swallow a huge piece of meat, barely feeling its taste, and then feel the heaviness in the stomach. But it is much better to sit down quietly and slowly enjoy the taste, feel every ingredient, every aroma.

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