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Why Rest Days are Important for Higher Efficiency at Work

Why Rest Days are Important for Higher Efficiency at Work

For centuries, humans have understood that rest is fundamental to success, health, and happiness. As the saying goes, “Even God rested on the seventh day.” Traditionally, humans have too – thanks in no small part to the practice of the weekly Sabbath (a core component of Judeo-Christian cultures) that’s observed by millions of people around the globe.

But over the past few decades, more and more workers are foregoing their day of rest in exchange for more hours at the office (especially in the Western world). The ubiquitous quest for productivity has driven many of us to give up on having consistent rest days altogether. Nowhere is this truer than in the United States, which is the only advanced economy that doesn’t mandate vacation policy at the national level.

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But counterintuitive as it may be, the real secret to increased efficiency at work might actually lie in working less – and resting more. Here’s what your work life stands to gain from making rest days a priority.

1. You’ll keep your brain sharp

The brain operates like a muscle — meaning that, just like your biceps, it can get worn out and fatigued if you use it too much, and it needs rest in order to recover. In fact, down time is essential for boosting motivation, learning from the past, planning for the future, processing new information, making memories, problem solving, maintaining your ability to concentrate, and even sustaining a personal code of ethics. Without these core mental processes, it’s going to be pretty tough to achieve anything efficiently. In other words? Down time is perhaps one of the most essential ingredients for continued workplace success.

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2. You’ll be more creative

More and more research confirms that regularly giving your mind a break promotes creativity, while failing to take rest days can erode innovative thinking. This might explain those flashes of insight that come to you in the shower or after a nap – little glimpses of evidence proving that down time is essential for the brain to generate fresh ideas. Heck, it’s even said that Albert Einstein thought up the theory of relativity while out for a bike ride.

3. You’ll get more done (in less time)

Studies consistently find that taking time off from work actually allows you to work more efficiently whenever you get back to the grindstone. In one study, people who were asked to take off one day each work week ended up reporting higher productivity and a greater sense of accomplishment over time. In contrast, pushing yourself to work longer hours and skipping rest days actually reduces productivity in both the short and long term.

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4. You’ll make better decisions

Too much time working without a break can fatigue your brain, reduce your ability to concentrate, put you in a bad mood, and generally put a damper on your emotional capacity. The result is a general depreciation of mental faculties that makes it increasingly difficult to make good plans or decisions. In contrast, regularly taking short breaks and combining them with a weekly rest day will allow your brain to replenish its faculties so that you’re able to make thoughtful and well informed choices at work.

5. You’ll prevent illness

Nothing gets in the way of productivity faster than sniffling through the workday with a box of tissues blocking your monitor or taking the day off because you’re sick as a dog. Rest days help your body and immune system repair themselves so that you’re less likely to get sick – and more likely to keep your head in the game.

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6. You’ll catch up on sleep

Why does this matter to work efficiency, you might ask? Studies consistently show that sleep deprivation reduces your ability to concentrate, makes you more likely to snap at coworkers, and decreases overall work performance. In fact, a Harvard study has estimated that sleep deprivation costs American companies around $63 billion per year in the form of lost productivity. In contrast, combining a regular rest day with good sleep habits (such as keeping electronics out of bed, using black-out curtains, and choosing a comfortable mattress) can improve your chances of staying well rested and functioning at max capacity.

7. You’ll have time to review and reflect

Taking some time off gives you the space to assess how things are going at work and make adjustments as necessary. Without taking the time to reflect, you run the risk of maintaining work habits or structures that aren’t actually making your more efficient. A rest day is also a good time to celebrate your accomplishments and refresh your sense of purpose so that you return to work with renewed motivation to get things done.

What all of this boils down to is that the energy and awareness you bring to your work will have a much greater impact on your productivity than the number of hours you spend sitting at a desk. Managing your energy resources in a responsible way by prioritizing regular rest days will allow you to prevent mental and physical burnout so that your mind functions at its best any time you sit down to work.

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Kenny Kline

Entrepreneur

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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