The most I ever worked in a week is 92 hours. That averages out to roughly 13 hours a day. The most I worked for a longer period of time is 70 hours/week for six months—took one day off somewhere in between; I believe it was for Christmas. If there is one thing that I have learned, it’s that working so much for such a long period of time sucks dick.
That is the best way for me to sum up those six months. I was overworked, tired and drained. I had gained almost 30 lbs. and developed rather impressive drinking habits. I’m surprised I still have a liver. This was four years ago when I had a restaurant. Since then I have not worked less than 50 hours a week—that is, until a few months ago.
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to take time off and to give yourself time to rest, time to cut off from the work reality and to get back in tune with life. Our brains can only work for so long at peak performance levels before becoming so crowded and disorganized that all efficiency becomes lost.
A task that would have taken your peaceful mind two hours now will take you two days. A rather simple task may seem near impossible to finish because your mind is too flustered to make the proper connections between steps in the process. Because you know that you need to finish the task you will, but you will be miserable during the process and produce a product that falls short of your potential.
In order to maximize potentiality we must maximize our efficiency. Our mind is our most important weapon and it must be maintained in order to function at peak performance levels. I took a trip to Paris a few weeks ago--a short trip, less than two weeks. But the trip did me good; maybe it was the change of scenery or the French women, but I felt like a new person when I returned.
If we spend all of our time being “productive” we will find that our productivity decreases over time without scheduled in rest periods. The fact is that the mind can only work at full power for a set period of time. It differs from person to person, but after about 2 months of solid work our minds tend to lose focus on the tasks at hand. There is simply too much junk that has been thrown into the mix and kept there because of stress and worry.
It’s not the work itself that kills us, but rather the tension that builds up over time with lack of rest and lack of mental purging. The only way to maximize our efficiency is to take time off—and lots of it. For every four months of work I would recommend taking 2 months off. That may seem like quite a bit, but it’s only 4 months out of the year that you would be taking off—sort of like when you were in high school.
Remember how great it felt when you didn’t have anything to think about other than how to enjoy yourself for the next couple of months? Remember how refreshed you felt after your vacation and how you eventually began to crave going back and studying? Okay, so maybe that’s only me…but if you love what you do then you will crave getting back to work once the time is right and you will be three times as productive than you would have been had you stayed and tried to plow through.
Unfortunately, we are not all so lucky as to be able to take off for a third of the year. Nevertheless, if we hope to be as efficient as possible, we must take the time to calm our minds. Our brains must be relieved of stress, worry and pressure regularly in order to keep working well. Stress slows down our mind’s ability to repair itself and all the way it links thoughts together.
Stress is like a fog that looms over our thought process, hiding the path the actions that we ought to take and hindering us from performing at our very best. Finding time to relax may seem unproductive, but it is exactly the opposite. Taking time off from working makes the times that you do work much more efficient and productive.
You will be capable of doing more in a short period of time, be able to work better and harder, be more creative and suffer less during the process. I know it seems counterintuitive—hence my 6 month work marathon. I have made a point to take more time for myself to exercise, meditate, go out and social and do whatever the heck else I feel like doing, while making sure to detach myself from my work. You have a scheduled workday with set work hours. Now you must create a vacation schedule with set lounging hours.