3 Reasons Why It’s Okay to Stop Pushing Yourself at Work

Updated: Oct 1, 2019

When you’re invested in your work you give it your all. The hours are long, the days are hectic. The thrill of success punctuates the background hum of the daily grind. It’s exciting but often you’re teetering on the edge of overwhelm. There is always more to do and never enough time. At the end of each day you collapse into bed; tasks ticked off your list but there’s more to greet you in the morning.


It’s easy when you’re working hard to put yourself last. You prioritise your clients, your admin, your family and your goals. You’ll take a break ‘when you get time’ but does that time ever come? When did you last stop and smell the roses?


Science now tells us that all work and no play not only makes Jack a dull boy, but it thwarts his productivity and creativity and eventually he’ll burn out. You will too.


Here are three science-backed reasons why rest is important to success in your business - and life.


1. You Get More Done When You Work Less. Your brain is like your phone battery. Use it for too long and you run out of juice. This is attributed to a physiological cycle called the Basic Rest-Activity Cycle (BRAC). During the day we move from a state of alertness progressively into fatigue every 90 minutes or so. To refuel we need rest. Don’t refill your coffee and push through. Take a walk instead, sit in the sun or read a book for 15 minutes and give your brain a chance to recharge.


2. Rest Promotes Creativity. Taking a break not only refreshes your mind and replenishes your focus and attention, it also helps you become more creative. “Aha moments” come more often to those who step away from the desk. Studies at Stanford University have found that we’re better at solving problems and coming up with new ideas when we’re walking. You don’t even have to leave the office. The very act of getting up and moving around gets the creative juices flowing and the effects last for a while once you’ve sat back down.


3. Always Stop When You Know What’s Going to Happen Next. This wisdom is attributed to Ernest Hemingway but it’s now backed by science. Rather than push on to a longer day to get it all done, be deliberate about when you stop work for the day and you might just find that difficult tasks become easier the next day. Creativity researchers have found that focusing on a task or problem for a while, then stepping away from it entirely, primes your brain to find a solution. The scientists call this the ‘incubation effect’ and it doesn’t work without distracting your brain with life outside of the office.


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