Throughout my life, I’ve measured my abilities based on my productivity -- and this has been both a blessing and a curse.
Using productivity as a reflection of ability has led me to consume large amounts of articles, books, and videos on how to be a top performer.
While one might assume achieving top performance has to do with how you acquire a skill (10,000 hrs), approach your work-life relationship (work hard to play hard), or how your days are spent (10+ hrs per day working), it’s actually quite the opposite.
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This answer may come as a surprise to you, or perhaps not.
There has been tons of news about how we should ideally be structuring our days, months, and years to accommodate for rest but are we truly looking at how we can benefit from it?
Bec Heinrich spoke about this very subject for her TED Talk, shared below.
She speaks of her personal experiences with overworking and complete burnout and how a year of rest rejuvenated her. It even led her back to work on researching the effects of rest in top performance.
Check out the video below. It’s worth the watch!
Let’s dive deeper into Bec’s talk by taking a look at how top performers use rest to to continually improve their game, leadership, and skills.
In sports, basketball players alternate playing time and bench time to continually play at top performance throughout the entire game.
As Bec illustrates in the video, this is true for Michael Jordan and Steph Curry. Endurance athletes use long periods of rest, in some cases, months at a time, as postseason recovery time to replenish the body and mind.
In business, it is reported that Bill Gates would take a “think week” to disconnect and internally focus. Tim Ferris incorporates rest by utilizing the sports theory of “de-loading” to slow down and free-up mental space in conjunction with intense periods of work and producing.
I know we all don’t have a year to devote to complete rest as Bec did or even a week to completely unplug as Bill Gates does, but as Bec shared, through her research she has found practical techniques to rest throughout the day.
Here are three practical ways Bec suggests to incorporate rest into your day:
Sit in Silence: Whether you are commuting on the train, standing in line, or waiting for a friend at a restaurant, try to sit in silence for those moments to clear your mind or sort through your thoughts without the distraction of listening to music, a podcast, or on your phone.
Go for a walk: Take breaks throughout your day to leave your workspace and take a walk. By removing yourself from your work environment for 10 minutes this allows you to clear your thoughts and regroup.
Be thankful: Keeping a list of things you are thankful for, be it large or small, can be tremendously helpful. Keeping such a list that you can revisit during stressful or trying times can serve as a reminder of the good things in your life and help bring balance and perspective.
Use the list above as a starting point to find pockets of rest throughout your day and continue to build on it.
As you begin to rest more, start to take note of your productivity and see just how much you can accomplish on well rested body and mind!
To everyone here in the U.S., hope you have a wonderful, and restful Memorial Day!