Understanding the importance of rest

by oneafrikan on April 18, 2006

I’m the first to admit that I’m a workaholic. 12/16/18 hour days are no stranger to me, and to be honest it’s bad – the harder I work the more I think I’m doing, but this isn’t necessarily true. You only have to picture the lone worker in the stone quarry banging away with a rubber mallet to understand this.  Somewhere in my past that was wired into my brain, but slowly I’m re-wiring it.

Being effective is far more important than working long hours.

And a part of being effective is taking the rest needed to re-charge worn batteries, motivation and relationships.

I spent this Easter weekend in Bath with my brother and my mum, and I had an absolutely wonderful time.  So much so that I’m kicking myself for not doing it more often.  I went away tired, stressed and a little burnt out, and I’ve come back rested, renewed and with more energy.  I’ve not felt this relaxed about things in general for a while, and it’s all good.  The highlights were seeing the Roman baths, hearty English breakfasts at the B’nB, watching two semi-naked acrobats in leapard skin thongs perform on the street, and getting to grips with the Nikon F70 (film SLR camera) I bought on eBay last year (and in the process taking some photo’s I’m really happy with).

In a lot of ways I’d forgotten how important these simple pleasures are, and now I’m determined to do that more often.

Anyways, I guess the take home is that unless I look after myself, I’m not going to make the long game, and it’s the long game that counts, doesn’t it?
What do you think?

4 comments

Absolutely positively correct.

I’m a student, so I see it all the time — people stay up until morning trying to get a project done, and then complain when it’s a piece of crap the next morning. I learned this the hard way, and next time it was down-to-the-wire, I slept instead of working, and got up early the next morning to find it pretty much a cinch to finish.

That’s an extreme case, of course, but illustrates your point quite nicely.

The other thing, about simple pleasures, is equally important to just getting good sleep. Let’s face it, we all work better when we’re happier; if more managers realized that, then they might actually dedicate some time to making employees happy and realize it’s not lost productivity, it’s gained.

(Sorry to go on, but this also brings up a good story…) My father works at a certain clothing company, and one year way-back-when, when the company was doing really well, they gave everybody a _flat_ bonus. Say, $10,000 each, not based on anything whatsoever. If you worked there, you got a ten grand bonus. He says it was the happiest time in the comany’s history. For _months_ people worked incredibly productively and didn’t worry about the corporate ladder or politics — they just did their jobs well because they were happy, and they felt they were actually appreciated and their jobs were important, because they were. Times have changed–these days, salaries and raises are based on performance and evaluations and bad management practices. They’ve forgotten the simple value of making people happy.

Sorry for such a long comment. I like that story, it’s a valuable lesson, and thanks for making me remember it. :)

by Tristan on April 18, 2006 at 9:23 pm. Reply #

I agree, rest is important.

but,,,

what if you can’t sleep? see I have to force myself to sleep, so I can recharge, but i just can’t sleep. So after my 16 hour day, i have to spend 4 hours trying to sleep, and by then I have 4 hours left to sleep, by then I have to wake up again, because I still won’t be able to sleep.

It’s almost as if my body has learnt to sleep just four hours, but people say I look terrible, I look tired.

I agree though, one needs to rest more often.

by lebogang nkoane on April 19, 2006 at 7:44 am. Reply #

Hey Tristan

Yea, completely hear you – somewhere along the line I was wired to think that hard work and long hours was good, rather than thinking working smart, efficiently or doing the right things was more important. It’s taken me a long while to get around to that realisation, and now that I’m in a place where I both recognise it, and can do something about it, it’s making a huge difference in my life. The hard part is that my Mum is here working with me (she’s in London for a while to sell her book (http://www.miraclesofhope.org/) and she is still very definitely wired to “hard work and feeling tired is how I measure my effectiveness” (maybe that’s where I learnt it?) so I’m seeing it almost like I was outside of myself watching myself – know what I mean?

Anyways, now I’ve made the decision to go to bed instead of working to the wee hours, and to get to it in the morning – there will always be work to do, and I’m going top put out my best when I’m fresh and focussed!

Also, I’m happy right now, and it’s making such a difference to my state of mind, productivity and my flow. Work doesn’t feel like work ‘cos I’m enjoying myself, so consequently I still work harder, but ‘cos I’m ejoying it I just flow, and it’s awesome!! Your story is so true universally – hope that other people read this post and draw some benefit from it.

by Gareth Knight on April 19, 2006 at 10:54 am. Reply #

Lebogang

Dude, you have to break the cycle man!
What you’ve described is me to a Tee, and this is what I’m doing to break the cycle (although I’m by no means perfect at all):

1. Make yourself wake up at the same time in the morning no matter what.
2. Go to bed earlier, to get your body used to going to bed early.
3. If you can’t sleep, read a book that is relaxing – I have a book about London architecture that serves two purposes – it makes me motivated to achieve my goals so I can create the means to have the home I desire and it is beautiful to look at (I don’t have a girlfriend at the moment ;-) or find something else to do that is relaxing. I imagine sex would have a good effect as it releases endorphins and I’m told it’s fun! ;-)
4. After coming back from SxSW, I was falling asleep at 7am for a week, and it nearly broke me. I was sick, had cold sores, was grumpy, and was fatigued more than I’ve been in 3 years. After that week, I started falling asleep at about 4am, then 2am, then started getting to midnight, now it’s about 11. Now, I don’t generally condone drugs, but I took Nytol (the chemical version, not the herbal one ‘cos that didn’t work for me when I last tried it) to make me sleep, and it worked. I can honestly say that I should have taken Nytol earlier.
5. Don’t look at a computer screen / tv for at least an hour before you go to bed. That, combined with reading, or doing something else that is relaxing, will help to get your mind off work and into a more relaxed state, which will hopefully make you ready for sleep.

Anyways, I’ve found that there are 4 things that are the cornerstones / pillars of my life, above and beyond anything else, and these things, when done, make a _LOT_of difference:

1. drink 2l of water every day
2. get 6 to 8 hours of sleep daily
3. do exercise daily
4. review daily and quaterly objectives every day to reinforce your life

Hope that helps man – when I’m next in Jozi I’m going to get you drunk so that you sleep!

by Gareth Knight on April 19, 2006 at 11:17 am. Reply #

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