January 24, 2024
Over the next couple weeks we will countdown our 5 most useful productivity hacks for 2024. These are tools that you must have in your productivity arsenal if you want to be at your best on the job and at home this year. Today we will be looking at rest.
You may be wondering how rest is a "productivity" hack. In fact, it probably seems like the exact opposite of productivity. If I want to be productive I have to be working on something, right? On the contrary, if we just take a peek at the residual effects of rest its utility for productivity becomes incredibly clear. When we intentionally make time for ourselves to rest this is a psychological win for our brains and an emotional win for our inner being. On one hand, we are telling ourselves that we deserve the rest. On the other, we are giving our minds time to process data and build stronger correlations. The former and the latter make rest a powerful productivity tool! If you are someone who wants to be both a great coworker and an excellent family member then you cannot afford to not get proper rest.
So why is there so much worker burnout? Why do so many people seemingly not get enough rest? Old habits are hard to break, and in our society we are taught that "doing more" is productive. It is easy to tune out the world when you have normalized extended work hours or indulgence in tasks that you enjoy. But that is not healthy. Contrary to what it may seem, learning to get rest is both more plausible and elusive --especially in this day and age-- than logging more hours. In fact, if you are reading this post, getting adequate rest might just be the key to the focus, balance, and productivity you desire.
Many professionals have not identified what rest is in their lives. While sleep is the most obvious and necessary form of rest, it can come in many different shades and sizes and is unique to each individual. Rest is a state of mind. If you are doing something that makes you anxious or restless then, likely, you are not resting. For example, oftentimes individuals can be doing something that looks like rest but their thoughts are going a thousand miles per hour. That is not rest!
Resting is a skill. It is a skill that most people have not mastered, and the hardest part of that is being disciplined enough to rest. We live in a society where we are bombarded with stimuli (e.g., phone notifications, social media posts, personal challenges, etc.) so our minds have formed thought patterns in constant response to those stimuli. In order to rest properly, you must learn to turn off many of those thoughts and compartmentalize them for a designated time. If you can learn to do this then you will reap personal rewards that few other skills can match.
The following are some practices and strategies that we recommend trying in order to make rest more systematic in your life.
#1 Practice focusing on one thing
Plan time in your day for leisure. During that time try not to let work creep in. There will always be a tendency to feel like you are missing out on beneficial thoughts and ideas, but trust that by giving your body and mind time to rest you will have even better thoughts and ideas when it is time to think about those things.
#2 Reduce your task count
While creating boundaries for each activity is key to productivity, the less boundaries you have the more inclined you will be to rest. Create spaces of time where you have fewer tasks and less pressure to do things that require high-level focus. An example of this might be designated a 2-hour time span where you run simple errands.
#3 Take timely breaks
Reward yourself with breaks. In addition, provide yourself adequate time for breaks. You don't have to limit yourself to 10 or 15 minutes. If you need 45 minutes then take it. But make sure you are resting during that time by being intentional. Choose to focus on something leisurely that you really enjoy.
#4 Practice intermittent rest
Sometimes you will get to a point in your day where you just feel restless. You don't feel productive and you don't know what to do next. In these cases, it is often better to just stop and decide to rest. Your brain and body are telling you that you are tired and need a break. Resolve to shift to a state of rest and set a time that you will reconvene.
Proper rest not only contributes to productivity but is imperative to mental and physical wellness. By being intentional with your rest you will both reduce inefficiency and preserve your precious emotional energy. We hope you found this post helpful. If so, please share it with others. In addition, if you would like to know our Top 4 productivity hacks for 2024, make sure you subscribe to my email list here.