“This is to say that the stress of hard physical training breaks us down, and it is only when we follow stress with rest that adaptation and growth occurs. This is especially true with sleeping, which is a catalyst for physical growth. Just as the brain is actively processing the work we’ve done throughout the day, when we sleep the body is doing the same.”
― Brad Stulberg, Peak Performance
Today I was at the grocery store grabbing some things for dinner on my way home from work.
And I kept forgetting what I was there for.
I had to laugh at myself as I walked to the same section of the store three times because I kept forgetting why I was there.
My mind seemed so hazy. It was both terrifying and exciting at the same time.
I was afraid that I’ll lose my mind before making it to the age of 30. I wondered if I should see a doctor.
But I’m also excited because I know that this memory fatigue is due to an incredibly dedicated week of difficult engineering problems, focused and persistent writing, and above all else, taking care of my Family.
And there was the lesson to be learned.
We shouldn’t be ashamed of ourselves when our memory or any other brain function is struggling because it may be a sign that we’ve worked really hard.
It just might mean that we’ve been exercising the mind so much recently that it’s just worn out and needs to recover.
It works with any mental principle.
Just fill in the blank with whatever you’re working on mentally right now:
Don’t be ashamed of yourself when your [mental capacity] is struggling because it may mean that you’ve been exercising your [mental capacity] muscle so much recently that it’s just worn out and needs to recover.
The truth is, I feel terribly burnt out right now. My mental abilities are being pushed to their limits and then some, and it’s not easy.
But I’m learning to grow.
I’m figuring out by experience how to develop greater willpower, focus, dedication, and purity of heart.
Sometimes you just have to keep going through writer’s block or a difficult engineering problem or a 10K run.
And sometimes you need to stop.
The 24–7 availability of the Internet makes us think that everybody is always going going going and that we should too, but you know what?
We shouldn’t always be going full steam ahead and we need to learn the skill of quitting when we should take a break.
Tonight we watched Dan in Real Life and I found myself holding my phone or computer at nearly every moment through the beginning of the movie.
I’m grateful for at least a little presence of mind left that led me to realize my error and put the devices down and just enjoy the movie with my Family.
It’s a really great movie by the way. I found myself smiling and laughing more than I probably have all week.
I really needed that.
Sometimes we know what we should do or even what we want to do, but we just don’t do it. This includes the principle that we will get more out of ourselves if we take breaks. It seems completely counterintuitive, but it’s true.
We know that we should take a break to improve our productivity, but sometimes we just keep going anyway.
It can be a really difficult balance to figure out, but we won’t learn it until we try.
Until we practice.
It’s fear that keeps us from trying to take the breaks that we need. We’re afraid that we’ll get lazy or too distracted or complacent, or “worse”- that we’ll be seen as all of those things by others.
Here’s to the weekend- do yourself a favor and pause for a moment.
Practice resting efficiently and your productivity will improve.
Take a break, you deserve it.
And so does your productivity.