We already know that we need a certain amount of rest, every day, to maintain our health and prevent burnout. But a lot of us don’t take that rest, even if we desperately need it, because we feel like we ought to spend our time being “productive.”
Well, turns out one of the top productivity experts advises the exact opposite. The real secret to increased efficiency at work might actually lie in working less, and resting more. Here’s what your work life stands to gain from making resting a priority.
First of all, we want to emphasize the benefits of rest. We really can’t overstate the importance of rest. Making time for leisure through activities like meditation, getting outdoors, or engaging in some kind of play can bring about a variety of health benefits, including improving your cognition and productivity.
Play, specifically, seems to bring about big benefits for your productivity and work performance. It’s been shown to improve brain function, which could stave off age-related cognitive decline.
Spending your free day outside in nature also appears to confer benefits. Aside from strengthening your immune function and reducing your risk for several chronic illnesses, being outdoors has also been shown to reduce your stress levels.
Meditation has also been shown to mitigate stress (and it has a beneficial effect on anxiety and depression). Meditation is also associated with:
You’ll keep your brain sharp: The brain operates like a muscle, meaning that, just like your biceps, it can get worn out and fatigued if you use it too much, and it needs rest in order to recover. In fact, down time is essential for boosting motivation, learning from the past, planning for the future, processing new information, making memories, problem solving, maintaining your ability to concentrate, and even sustaining a personal code of ethics.
Without these core mental processes, it’s going to be pretty tough to achieve anything efficiently. In other words? Down time is perhaps one of the most essential ingredients for continued workplace success.
You’ll make better decisions: Too much time working without a break can fatigue your brain, reduce your ability to concentrate, put you in a bad mood, and generally put a damper on your emotional capacity. The result is a general depreciation of mental faculties that makes it increasingly difficult to make good plans or decisions. In contrast, regularly taking short breaks and combining them with a weekly rest day will allow your brain to replenish its faculties so that you’re able to make thoughtful and well-informed choices at work.
You’ll prevent illness: Nothing gets in the way of productivity faster than sniffling through the workday with a box of tissues blocking your monitor or taking the day off because you’re sick as a dog. Rest days help your body and immune system repair themselves so that you’re less likely to get sick, and more likely to keep your head in the game.
While our culture may be pushing us toward working overtime, 24/7, this is clearly not helping us to be more productive or to come up with creative solutions to our problems.
When we treat rest as work’s equal partner, recognize it as a playground for the creative mind and a springboard for new ideas, and learn ways to take rest more effectively, we elevate it into something valuable that can help calm our days, organize our lives, give us more time, and help us achieve more while working less.
Remember: Rest is not idleness. It is the key to a better life.