Burn Out or Burn Brighter?

To be productive, to learn something new, to be creative, to solve non-trivial problems, to be healthy, and happy; we need to give our brains ample downtime.

We are a culture obsessed with filling every available second with some type of activity or distraction. We do this to ourselves but we are also inundated with ads of some kind constantly grabbing for our attention. Take any sporting event and notice how every patch of real estate is being used for ads and every second of downtime in play is filled with commentary, highlight reels, interviews, statistics, feeds of scores from other games, or some other piece of trivia. Or go to just about any restaurant or bar and count the number of televisions. And our phones. OMG. Enough said.

Work is no different as people seem to be on a quest to never have a moment to think. Busyness fills people’s schedules to the hilt, leaving little room for actual work to get done. On average, employees spend more than half of their workdays receiving and managing information rather than using it to do their jobs. So, the workdays spill into the evenings and weekends. Our hobbies, health, and relationships suffer. Ironically, our productivity and efficiency suffer.

This ends up being an onslaught of information that our brains are not built to handle without consistent periods of rest. This is aggravated by the fact that we have whittled away as much downtime for our brains as possible. This situation is equivalent to working out every waking moment pretty much every day. No one does this because it is counter-productive; our bodies need time to recuperate in order to reap the full benefits of working out. Our brains are no different.  

To be productive, to learn something new, to be creative, to solve non-trivial problems, to be healthy, and happy requires that we give our brains ample downtime. Expert performers (athletes, musicians, etc.) understand this and have reached their peak performance, in part, by providing their bodies and minds the appropriate amount of rest.  

Take a look through this infographic to discover some of the science behind why it would be a good idea to disconnect from work this weekend. 

14-Scientific-Reasons-to-Disconnect_DV4For a more in-depth look at this topic, I recommend this article: “Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime“. 

And to get the full details on peak performance, check out the book by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. (Spoiler alert: it’s not about innate skill.)

Would you rather burn out or burn brighter?

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