A few years ago I worked with a personal trainer of the ‘keep-fit’ gym variety. From her I learnt the necessity of pushing beyond my comfort zone to stretch my capabilities, and also the importance of rest and variety.
For example rather than just walking or jogging at the same pace all the time, intersperse that with walking faster, or running flat out for a minute.
Recovery/rest periods are as important as the workout, as it allows muscles to recover and build, and doing different types of exercise helps to stop us getting bored, and also means we work different muscle groups.
If you're wondering whether this blog has been taken over by someone else, no, it's still me, and there is method in my madness.
When I'm really pushed by a deadline, the first thing to go is my morning exercise or walk, and I head straight to the computer and start work. I also tend to forget to take small rests to change posture/position, or to stretch muscles. At the very time I need to work smarter, what I'm doing is working harder, and the stupid thing is - it doesn't work.
Staying at my desk for longer, not taking breaks, or stretching doesn't help me produce more.
The intermittent recovery period is as important in the mental/work aspects of our life, as it is in the physical side. Thinking uses up a lot of energy.
To stay focussed, inspired, and to work positively, we need short rest and recovery periods, together with a brief change of channel.
When up against a deadline I feel a self-imposed pressure to work through any tiredness or lack of inspiration.
I asked myself where I am when I get my inspiration, whether for my own writing, or for non-fiction contract work.
I would bet it's in similar places or situations to most of you reading this. I get inspired when I'm out walking, exercising, in the shower, or sometimes I'll wake up with the answer. Most times it's not when I'm in front of the computer.
Yet I will stay at the computer struggling to create an assessment for training material, or trying to come up with a way of making a dry piece of information interesting for the people who will take the course.
Here is a quote from Leonardo da Vinci. 'Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose power of judgment. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller, and more of it can be taken in at a glance, and a lack of harmony or portion is more readily seen.'
Who am I to argue with da Vinci?