You want to be alert, fresh and awake at work. You’re hoping to feel energized and focused throughout the day. By 2:00PM, however, your energy sags. You have heaps of emails to get through, presentations to deliver and two more meetings to attend in the long hours ahead. You eat something quickly at your desk, drink another coffee and keep going, all while feeling more and more depleted. The demands, the deadlines and the extremely long hours leave you feeling exhausted.
You wonder if sustaining an optimal performance is just an elusive dream. March on! Do more! Push through! Keep going! This ethos of the corporate workplace over the last hundred years is grounded in a totally misguided notion: the assumption that, as humans, we operate in a linear and sustainable fashion.
The reality is that we’re not designed to run like our personal computers, continuously at a high speed for long periods of time. The beating of our hearts, our respiration, muscles, cellular function and, most importantly, mental concentration are pulse-like and not at all linear. We alternate through states of contraction and expansion. Our bodies and our brains function rhythmically. The human battery must be recharged, so brief periods of recovery and restoration are essential for peak performance.
Annual leave and weekends are great for recuperating. However, in order to be truly awake at all levels, the need for renewal is far more immediate and is, in fact, a daily prerequisite. A new and growing body of scientific research demonstrates that strategic renewal boosts productivity, mental stamina, job performance and, of course, health.
We may have resigned ourselves to the fact that stress, fatigue and exhaustion are simply part of life in the 21st century. This doesn’t need to be so! The good news is that you can keep awake, alert and energized at work and beyond with a few of these key lifestyle adjustments.