Do you find yourself over tired, exhausted or underperforming during a day, week, month, year or even over your career?
As humans, many of us work or perform back-to-back tasks until we are exhausted. If it’s physical we notice the fatigue and generally stop earlier for a break, however if it’s mental fatigue we tend to go a lot longer allowing our performance to drop to quite low levels.
For example with the world turning more to online meetings with the advance of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are finding themselves in more back-to-back meetings and periods of focused work without breaks. Previously we would get a break walking or driving between meetings, going somewhere to each lunch or would find ourselves in conversation with others. Now, it’s more common for people to remain at there computer and switch from one piece of focused work to another, while eating (if they remember) in the go.
Have you noticed how, as humans, we are very good at adapting to a gradual change in state and we don’t realize that our performance has dropped until it’s too late (sick, exhausted or react negatively)?
I will be first to put my hand up and say, I pushed too hard and over did it as an Athlete, employee and CEO. I even flatlined in hospital when thinking I was invincible and could keep working harder and longer in the false hope that I was being a high performer.
“Have you ever over done it in your life, for all the right reasons?”CRAIG JOHNS
To perform at our best we need to proactively balance periods of focused work with rest or recovery. In Break The CEO Code we focus on energy management, starting with a 3:1 Work to Recovery ratio and modifying the ratio depending on the intensity of work. Called CEO Periodization, we use the ratio of 3:1, which is consistent with recent research conducted by the Microsoft Human Factors Lab, athlete performance literature, military protocols and a number of other work performance related studies.
The research shows that after 45-60min of sustained focused work, our performance starts to decline. It will be less time if the physical or mental intensity of the work is greater than normal and the recovery time needed will be much greater. What is interesting is that it takes approximately 15-20min of recovery or rest to return the energy and performance back to high levels.
Example if you have a meeting or focused work for 45min then you need 15min recovery or rest to return to a high performance state.
So, what is the difference between rest and recovery?
REST is the absence of activity or movement.
Sleep, mindfulness, meditation and even exercise are great examples of rest that can reduce the mind activity. However if you want to rest the body as well, then you would exclude exercise or activity that is physical in nature.
RECOVERY is a proactive restorative approach to bring the mind and body back to balance or lift to a better state.
Meditation, hobbies, exercise, massage, yoga, comedy, change of location, getting fresh air, walking in nature, eating healthy food, staying hydrated and many other activities can increase the restorative process of recovery.
How can we proactively incorporate breaks in our day?
It’s important that we define what a break is to us. It could still be doing work, however it would need to be low cognitive in nature to help with the restoratative process.
Any recovery or rest approach is beneficial when applied effectively. You just need to find what works for you and implement it proactively. If you are finding yourself feeling depleted as the week goes on, then you haven’t got the balance right.
The mind and body will partake in restorative processes while still working or doing some form of activity. The higher the workload, stress load and intense focus, the less restoration that can occur and the result is lower performance as the breakdown exceeds restoration in our mind and body.
This happens when athletes breakdown due to physical/mental stress overload. In workers they can experience burnout or other mental/physical health issues if the long term loading is excessive. For parents, it could be “snapping” at our children as the pressure boils over.
High Performance or sustaining a high level of performance throughout a day, week, month, year or career requires energy management.
It’s important that we manage our energy proactively rather than reactively.
Scheduling your recovery and energy in your diary before scheduling meetings and periods of focused work, is a great proactive approach.
How can you structure your meetings and work so that you can sustain a high level of energy and performance?
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