“To rest is to prepare to give the best of ourselves.” David Whyte
During a recent 20-hour flight, I listened to an insightful book by computer science guru Cal Newport, titled Deep Work. His theory is that in our distracted, busy, and demanding lives we most often fail to delegate sufficient time to thinking deeply. But more on that another time.
Call It a Day and Mean it!
I just finished a chapter on knowing when to “call it a day”—something rare for most of us. How many days of the week do you take your job home with you? Troubles linger and grow, problems without solutions remain mindful, and that bitchy boss or annoying colleague feel as if they are sitting next to you at the dinner table.
You know the consequence. You harbor the issue, whine or rave incessantly, or down another bottle of wine… so, just for a moment, you can feel released. And, I haven’t even mentioned the unfinished tasks you love doing; even they become a cloudy remnant in the front of your brain.
According to Cal, this type of thinking does you no good. You are too tired to solve anything and when you do think you solve the issue, it is likely not your best answer. Sometimes, maybe even most times, you are far better off leaving all that stuff at the office. Even if the office is upstairs.
The Power of a Personal Routine
His solution: (1) Keep a standard set time that you leave the office or when you quit work. (2) When you leave the office, “consider all your work done, for that day.” Cal offers an enormously helpful suggestion: Shut down your computer until the following day. Let this be a metaphor for “shutting down your day.” After Cal shuts down his computer, he says out loud, “System shut down.” That means not only is his computer system down, but so is that computer in his brain. He walks out of his office, not to return, physically or emotionally.
Our brains are horribly inefficient when they reach ultimate fatigue. You and your precious brain require rest. So why not do it?
A couple ideas might be helpful to genuine productivity and sanity at the same time. Here is my commitment:
- Establish a daily routine and then honor it. My routine is this… now remember I am retired… I begin work at 10:00 AM and call it a day at 6:00 PM. Although I am typically up by 6:30 when I begin my morning routine of meditation, inspirational reading, journaling, and prayer before I do anything else. I refuse to even look at email until 10:00 AM.
- Do your work—I will write on Deep Work another time. For now though, devote your time to doing what you need to do, whatever that may be.
- And then, shut down your system.
Consider it done… until tomorrow.
Why Do We Think a Fatigued Brain
Functions Like a Rested One
Photo courtesy of Gabriel Trujillo at istockphoto