“How are you doing?”
Do you frequently answer that question by saying something like, “Real good, real busy”? There’s a subtle implication that we are good because we are busy. Is that true? Some very compelling research suggests the opposite.
We all have peaks and valleys of energy and productivity, what the renowned psychologist and sleep researcher Nathaniel Kleitman called circadian (daily) and ultradian (shorter, sometimes hourly) rhythms. Paying attention to when we’re most energized and alert, as well as when we need to take a mental break, allows us to do our best work.
Paying attention to when we’re most energized and alert, as well as when we need to take a mental break, allows us to do our best work.
According to productivity expert Tony Schwartz, “When we need a rest, our bodies send us clear signals such as fidgetiness, hunger, drowsiness, and loss of focus. But mostly, we override them.” Productive and creative cycles typically last only 90-120 minutes, so he recommends we take regular “renewal” breaks to reset our energy and attention.
Psychologist Anders Ericsson found that virtuoso violin players on average practiced for intervals lasting no more than 90 minutes,…