In this week’s Sunday Review section of the New York Times, there is an interesting article by Tony Schwartz called “Relax! You’ll Be More Productive!” The article is clearly directed at the typical working executive- who wakes up tired, checks email before he/she gets out of bed, skips breakfast to get to work on time, rarely leaves his/her desk at lunch, and runs from meeting to meeting with virtually no time in between. But to me, this could also describe the life of a Mom (especially at work-at-home Mom!) who also checks her email before her feet hits the floor, barely has time to grab breakfast while simultaneously feeding the kids their morning meal and packing a school lunch, who runs from errand to errand, knocking things off of her to-do list with virtually no time in between. Sounds familiar right? The article goes on to say:
“More and more of us find ourselves unable to juggle overwhelming demands and maintain a seemingly unsustainable pace. Paradoxically, the best way to get more done maybe to spend more time doing less. A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal- including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office, and longer, more frequent vacations- boosts productivity, job performance, and of course, health.”
Okay… so the point is that I will actually get MORE done if I schedule in a nap? And perhaps take some time off every once in awhile? Carve up my day into neat 90-minute segments of productivity and down time? Is this really the answer to becoming more productive? And is this advice that I could ever truly put into effect in my own life? Well…. maybe a modified version.
I can certainly attest to the fact that I operate a whole lot better when I have consistently received a good night’s sleep- which by my definition is a minimum of 7 straight hours with no interruptions (ideally, I would love 8). When I am well-rested my overall mindset is more positive, my patience is infinitely longer, and I am definitely more productive.
Lately for me, this just hasn’t been the case. I’ve been waking up at 2 or 3am and once I do, my mind gets going and I start thinking about all of the things that I want to accomplish, and I might even sit up in bed and make a list of two (‘cuz you know if I don’t write it down, I will forget!) And once the list-making has started… well- that’s it. I am wide awake. I will try for an hour or two to go back to sleep, but more often than not… I give up around 4am and just start working for the day.
I should be a total productive machine with all of those extra hours to myself in the morning, right? And to some extent- I am. I get more done in those wee early morning hours that I ever do after 9am. But the problem is… for the rest of the day my body knows that it is running on empty energy reserves. So it starts to crave caffeine…. tea, diet coke, and then more diet coke. And it craves sugar…. a few M&Ms chased down by a few conversation hearts (it IS Valentine’s Day this week, right?) and then maybe a piece of that leftover chocolate cake.
And by 2:30pm, I am run-down, tired, cranky, impatient, and stuffed full of sugar. In short- lack of sleep is making me feel awful.
So rather than try to fit in a mid-day’s nap, I am going to focus instead of getting the sleep I need during the night time hours. And I do think there is some merit to the idea the working in uninterrupted 90 minute shifts followed by a break of some sort- even if that break is just getting up to walk around or maybe squeeze in a little house cleaning. Sometimes I do my best thinking when I am vacuuming my floors! But that part about taking extra vacations….. that’s a little harder for a Mom to do. It’s not like we ever really get time off from our job, is it?
What helps to make you your “most productive self”? Sleep? Taking breaks? Wine? Please leave a comment and share it with me!
Each week Nicole from Moments that Define Life and I present our Share Your Life Link-Up a place where you can link up any post that shares a bit of your life with us! Link up here or at Nicole’s blog and have your post displayed in both places! We’d love for you to join us!
thumbnail image courtesy of the NY Times