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“Relax! You’ll Be More Productive” – Fascinating NY Times article

This Op Ed from the New York Times contains some compelling research.

It certainly chimes with my own experience.

These days, having several jobs/roles and spreading time amongst them, I try to adhere to the advice in the article as much as possible. But it’s really not easy.

If I am tired and I have gap between meetings or calls, a nap or trip to the gym can work wonders for my productivity. I personally work best in intense bursts, followed by down time. I know a lot of people are similar.

The occasional nap is a benefit of working several days a week from home.

The challenge of course, is that most offices are just not set up for this.

Last week I failed dismally at “personal management” and worked 12-15 hours a day after a 12 hour flight on Monday, then collapsed this weekend and slept most of it. A pretty stupid thing to do. I had a lot on, but it was still dumb. Just because you know the theory, doesn’t mean you can put it into action regularly.

Here’s some salient stats and solutions from the NY Times piece titled: “Relax! You’ll Be More Productive

  • “Spending more hours at work often leads to less time for sleep and
    insufficient sleep takes a substantial toll on performance. In a study
    of nearly 400 employees, published last year, researchers found that
    sleeping too little — defined as less than six hours each night — was
    one of the best predictors of on-the-job burn-out. A recent Harvard
    study estimated that sleep deprivation costs American companies $63.2
    billion a year in lost productivity.
  • “The Stanford researcher Cheri D. Mah found that when she got male
    basketball players to sleep 10 hours a night, their performances in
    practice dramatically improved: free-throw and three-point shooting each increased by an average of 9 percent.
  • Daytime naps have a similar effect on performance. When night shift air
    traffic controllers were given 40 minutes to nap — and slept an average of 19 minutes — they performed much better on tests that measured vigilance and reaction time.
  • Longer naps have an even more profound impact than shorter ones. Sara C. Mednick, a sleep researcher at the University of California, Riverside, found that a 60- to 90-minute nap improved memory test results as fully as did eight hours of sleep.
  • MORE vacations are similarly beneficial. In 2006, the accounting firm
    Ernst & Young did an internal study of its employees and found that
    for each additional 10 hours of vacation employees took, their year-end
    performance ratings from supervisors (on a scale of one to five)
    improved by 8 percent. Frequent vacationers were also significantly less
    likely to leave the firm.”

Read the full article here, fascinating.