Why Proper Rest Makes You More Productive
Most of us think about rest as merely the absence of work—not something valuable in its own right. Sometimes even, it’s equated with laziness. However, the truth of the matter is that nothing could be further from the truth. Rest is a state of present-moment awareness in your mental and physical experience. Rest is actively not doing. It's when the mind and body are still and relaxed. Rest is an essential component of productivity. Where there is rest, one can work well and work smart. Rest helps us to think, innovate, and increase our output.
Even when our brain is at its resting state (when we are not directly focused on a task) it’s still active, trying to “work” away problems and look for new information. The good thing is, we can use this to our advantage. By actively choosing to engage in proper rest consistently, we send a signal that feeds our brain an invitation to calm down our rational mind, which constantly wants to keep busy. In this way, we can train it to decompress and recharge during these mindful moments, so that when it’s time to get back to work, it’s so much more powerful and productive.
The goal here is to enjoy rest more profoundly and to be more refreshed and restored daily. Here are some of the ways I recommend using rest to benefit thinking and productivity.
- Starting an early morning routine: Set up a morning routine (or any daytime routine), so that you don’t waste brainpower recreating the wheel every day and taking up valuable energy figuring out how to get things done. People whose work has a large measure of routine are more likely to produce ideas and complete tasks more efficiently, because the brain likes repetition and patterns. Make sure that your routine always includes a few minutes a day to slow down.
- Take more walks: Walking can be a simple way to facilitate rest, creative thinking and productivity. Not only is it a form of exercise (which brings blood to the brain), it can also create a new mental environment. This is great for clearing thoughts and even encouraging more mind-wandering, which aids creativity and problem solving.
- Take mini breaks: Setting timers, or little goals followed by a break throughout the day can be extremely beneficial where productivity is concerned. It allows the mind to regroup, refresh and recharge. Not to mention it breaks up large tasks into more digestible ones, ultimately aiding in greater productivity.
- Stop at the right time: A counterintuitive but effective form of deliberate rest is to stop working at just the right point. When considering your next move, and you’ve already done what you’ve needed to for the day, decide to leave the rest until tomorrow. Stopping when you have a little energy left makes it easier to get started the next day.
- Sleep: Of course, sleep is the ultimate form of rest and an important part of a creative and productive life. During the day, our bodies are mainly occupied with spending energy on motor activity and cognitive functions. When we fall asleep, our bodies shift into maintenance mode and devote themselves to storing energy, fixing or replacing damaged cells, and growing, while our brains clean out toxins, process the day's experiences and sometimes work on problems that have been occupying our waking minds. Afternoon naps can also be valuable for this reason. Even a short nap of around 20 minutes boosts your ability to concentrate by giving your brain a chance to restore depleted energy. Looking to improve your quality of sleep? Try Sleep to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and wake up feeling refreshed.
So many of us strive to be more productive, and most people believe the best way to do this is through force, pressure and self-criticism. Effective rest means that you bring your attention to just one place — the here and now. We need to treat rest as productivity’s equal partner and see it as a vessel for a clear mind and a platform for new ideas. Learning to rest properly will lead us experience calmer days, organize our lives, give us more time, and help us achieve more while working less.