Rhythm and Rest

Humans are not machines. Energy will deplete, and in our rhythm of living, we must be able to rest and recover.

Not Machines

Human beings are not machines. We require energy to function. Our energy levels are not constant. The human body will expend energy as we work and think. Sometimes our energy is up and sometimes it is down. As energy drains, our efficiency and effectiveness go down as well. Has anyone ever felt productive when asked to stay late for a midnight release? Or how about the next day? Sometimes we’re called upon to expend ourselves more than is natural to our bodily rhythm. After such episodes, recovery demands are similarly greater.

Though energy will fluctuate, regular rituals that allow us to acknowledge and manage through our energy rhythms will help us maintain higher productivity over time. These might include adequate nightly rest, well-place breaks and snacks throughout the day, proper diet, physical exercise, creative outlet, change of focus, etc.

We must be careful not to treat ourselves as machines. We must be careful in observation or expectation of others not to treat them as machines. They may be at a peak, we may be in a trough, or vice versa. It’s ok. Each of us has a rhythm – an up and down. It’s natural. Don’t feel like you have to go forever at a single pace.

Being Consistent

We can’t be expected to work the same all the time. Yet consistency is important. Others need to know that they can count on us. Plans are made around what we can produce. Thus in these equations, one consistency must be made clear: we each have a need for rest and rejuvenation. We are not machines. We must not contribute to a system that makes it seem like we can go forever and always without a break, because that’s not true. We may fool ourselves and others for a season, then we will eventually crash if we don’t find time to recover. False heroics may give us a short-term buzz of self-importance, but we will hurt our long-term chances of realistically meeting the needs of our teams.

Time Off

Take time off. Schedule it in advance and be clear, but take it. Of course, your company is not financing your excessive vacation time. But there should be a mutual commitment between you and the company to take care of each other. You contribute as asked to your projects. They keep you well-fueled for the task.

Feel free to take what time off you need. Maintain yourself and take care to reserve judgement on those who are maintaining themselves according to their personal needs and rhythm. Experience all of life, and take time to fill your creative reservoir. Recover yourself, decrease your pace for a while, and come back with renewed spirit and increased productivity. Your health and productivity over the long term will confirm that you’ve made the right choice.

Do you feel like the place you work acknowledges this rhythm in your own energy and gives you space to rest and recover? What are some of your most effective recovery rituals?