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11 ways To Recover Sharpness and Productivity Before your Annual Leave

He that can take rest is greater than he that can take cities.”

~ Benjamin Franklin


bout a decade ago, all functions in my body came to a sudden halt. I was vomiting “at will”. If I had a chance to sleep, I would simply “die”. I remember burning saucepans while cooking because I took a simple nap that ended up in a three hour “death” and forgot about the food I was preparing. Dangerous times those were. My productivity was an all time low, regardless of the amount of time I was putting in!

I went to hospital and they did a battalion of tests: I was diagnosed with…nothing. It turns out that I was not resting at all. At work, I was irritable and many clients avoided my desk.  You get the picture.


I think one of the most forgotten power disciplines of productivity is rest


I think one of the most forgotten power disciplines of productivity is rest. We tend to think that if you clock in an 8 hour work day daily, you are being productive. Someone said,

“In the end, it is not the amount of years in our lives that count, it is the amount of life in our years that count.”

In essence, a guy clocking in 5 hours a day could actually be more productive and focused than the one who is clocking in 8. Do not get me wrong. I know of entrepreneurs who give themselves no sleep until a project is done. Matter of fact, I read this week about the Sniper Training program in the United States. 25 candidates are picked and subjected to a 16 hour days training!

At some point, Arianna Huffington suffered the same fate is I did with over-working. She was putting in more than 12 hour work days until her health took a big hit. She is now a great champion for less-work. I am joining her in this endeavor because just this week, I have suffered a minor breakdown in my health due to lack of enough rest.

There are several reasons why people do not cherish rest.  Here are some:

  • They think that it is time wasting: Some people cannot fathom doing anything else totally unrelated to work. They think is a total time waste and are pretty uncomfortable with it. I am quitting this club immediately!
  • They cannot link the rest to a cent directly: Show me the money! Some people have whittled down their net-worth to how many dollars per hour. That is why the aspect of rest and relaxation does not sell to them because it does not directly convert into dollars! Take it easy guys.
  • They are unplanned and unprepared for it: Perhaps this is the biggest of all reasons. People who are not organized do not “have time” to rest. Ironical. Dr. Mike Murdock says, “Schedule your fun because your pain is already scheduled”
  • They Do not Trust Others: There is just too much to do but they want to do it by themselves. Some are control freaks. They cherish not excellence but perfection. Steve Jobs? I don’t now.


The Most Important Aspect of Productivity

No, it is not technology. It is not systems. It is not resources. It is people! People are not machines. You are not a machine, you are a human being. We are structured to work, rest and recuperate. Any time we push ourselves past our limits, our bodies are the ones that suffer and disintegrate. Sadly, many people have to wait till the annual leave comes before they can grab well needed rest.

Elsewhere, I have argued that there are some employees who rightfully deserve this “leave” way before it comes. These are those who have exerted themselves and produced some results.

“The most important aspect of productivity is not resources, machines and technology, it is people!”

Lawrence Namale

It is good that they recoup some strengths immediately, other than waiting till the timing of the annual leave. This is an unauthordox suggestion. It is a Life Signatures suggestion that we cherish rest at all times and at all costs. Why? The benefits thereof cannot be quantified but they are invaluable.

What if you do not rest?

  • Messed up love life (Low libido and interest): Both men and women. If you cannot be intimate with your husband, he will be stressed. Believe me. If he is stressed, it will rub on you… and you will end up becoming unproductive. Same applies to a man. If you cannot satisfy and fulfill your wife…you aint gonna be happy, believe me! A lot can be said here, let’s leave it for the experts.
  • Stress: This is the direct effect of lack of rest. It affects the physical, mental and emotional aspects of your life directly. It is like the empty glass analogy that still needs to keep serving. Serving people with your glass empty is a recipe for disaster.
  • High Blood Pressure: Remember, you are not a machine. You do not operate on petrol or electricity or biogas. You are flesh and blood. Without rest, one of it will give way, either the flesh, or the blood.
  • Heart problems: Here we go. The more you have the above, the more susceptible you are to heart disease.
  • Stroke: Well…
  • Depression: Of course!

The reformer Martin Luther said the following: “I have so much to do, I have to spend at least 3 hours in prayer daily! This man understood the power of re-energizing himself”.

“I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”

Martin Luther

I know that I have advocated here that we need to have our weeks blocked out with activity, having every minute accounted for. It is time to now slot in well needed moments of rest in there.

Before we can take a look at the several creative ways you can catch some rest before your annual leave comes by, let us look at some of the ways you can benefit from resting:

9 Benefits of Resting

  1. Save on money: Do you know how much you would spend in hospital if your body system shut down? Do you know how much “downtime” you will lose and incidentally, that is what you are trying to avoid? Rest saves you all this and more!
  2. Maximizes time: A rested person comes back with Urgency, knowing that they have to catch up.
  3. Growth of brain cells: Stress caused by lack of rest stops growth of brain cells and at extreme situations, kill sit. This makes a rested person a very sharp one.
  4. Recovery of body systems and functions: Relaxed, refreshed and ready to go is what describes a well-rested human being.
  5. Re-energizing and Renewing: A boost of energy comes not with 21 days of rest…but at times with a simple power nap.
  6. Stress Reliever: Goes without saying
  7. Mood enhancer: Aha! Mood swings are children of lack of rest at times. Take heed. You want to be the most approachable person in the organization? Take some time and rest!
  8. Anti-Aging: This will of course catch your attention. By the way, at the time that I had my first breakdown, I was less than 24 years old. My boss called me into her office and tried to guess my age…she said 30! I was an old coot because of stress. So rest will make you age less faster.
  9. Relaxer: Yes. Rest and relaxation removes the pressure not just from your body, but also crucially, from your mind and emotions. A relaxed person is very productive.

11 Quick Ways to Steal some time and Rest

  1. Power Nap: Take some 20-30 minutes, close your eyes and spread out on a coach (it is time we had these things in office, it is the 21 century anyway!). This gives you an equivalent of 1 day that you would have lost trying to rest fully
  2. Sleep: It is recommended you do at least 6 hours of sleep. Anything less than that is a red zone
  3. Play: Physical fitness works like magic. Take some time and play with kids and laugh out silly, jog, play racquet games, indoor games, go out and dance etc. Give it at least an hour
  4. Talk To People: Slap shut your laptop. Throw away your smart phone. Switch off the TV. Talk to someone in a deep conversation. Hug them. Cuddle them (where appropriate and licenced). You have no idea how this boosts you in minutes! The key is “Gadgets Off!!”
  5. Theatre: Go out and watch a dance, a play, a comedy. No need for explanation here
  6. Picnic: Take your significant other out for a picnic. Leave the phone at home. Maybe take a walk lazily in the evening.
  7. Massage: Powerful. Stay within the boundaries here
  8. Adventure: Go to recreational centers. If you are in Kampala Uganda, go for bungee jumping in Jinja etc
  9. Meditation and Prayer: Highly recommend this. Take your time on this. Do not be in a hurry
  10. Nutrition: Use your lunch hours to not only eat and drink healthy but also to catch up with friends. Remember the adage: “Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a Princess and dinner like a pauper. Also during the day, take as many glasses of water as you can, minimally 8!
  11. TV: This came last on purpose. Select a good inspirational movie, probably those based on true life stories. Make time and watch uninterrupted. It is not a sin.

There you go!