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Tuesday Tips: A Rested Mind is a Productive Mind

May 25, 2010

A rested mind is a productive mind. And, the converse is true. A consistently tired mind…and body…are not productive. The law of diminishing returns applies on multiple levels.

  • The mind and body require greater amounts of effort to achieve results after 8 or so hours of work. So, while working late into the night is occasionally necessary, and even productive for some people, it incurs diminishing returns as frequency increases.
  • Sleep debt begins immediately when less than 8 hours of quality sleep is obtained. When sleep debt accumulates over days or weeks, a person’s ability to relax, heal, process information, and focus the mind suffers.
  • Impaired productivity and the associated stress worsen as sleep debt increases, contributing to more sleep debt if the cycle isn’t broken.

So, in the interest of hopefully resting some minds, I offer the following suggestions:

  • Take a break from whatever you’re working on whenever you feel like you need to, but not less frequently than every hour. This break doesn’t need to take more than a minute if you’re already taking a ten or fifteen minute break a few times a day. Reorient your mind on something restful. Breathe deeply. Rest your eyes. If something is nagging you, write it down.
  • Go to bed early for a week.
  • Sleep late on the weekend before and after you go to bed early. Yes, I realize this is contrary to the advice given to promote regular sleep patterns. You have to do something to begin offsetting sleep debt. It will take months if you only sleep 8 hours a day to start with.
  • Keep something beside your bed so you can jot down anything that’s keeping you awake. You have to trust whatever you use, or it won’t work. Make sure these notes go into your trusted inbox.

I’ll leave you with this image from Gustave DorĂ©, which is an out-of-context, but applicable, depiction of trying to force productivity through exhaustion.

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