“Now I’m sitting here, sipping at my ice cold beer, lazing on a sunny afternoooooooon…” (The Kinks, “Sunny Afternoon”)
File this little piece of consulting advice under the “WTF Were You Thinking?” Department: I frequently encounter entrepreneurs (usually the struggling kind) who confuse “working” with activity.
When they finish a project, for example, the sudden evidence of fresh free time startles them — somehow, inside their head, they feel they “should” be devoting every waking moment to the gig.
So they dive immediately into the next job.
This is so wrong.
You’re not a machine.
You need downtime, and lots of it — that’s where the creative process flourishes, and your overall energy levels recuperate.
The top performers in all niches jealously guard their free time, and greedily devour it with gusto.
Here’s what they know that you keep forgetting: The harder you work, the more down time you require regeneration and recovery from the stress.
However, (and here’s the real trick), the more PRODUCTIVE you yearn to become…
… the more you have to respect, guard and cash-in your time AWAY from the work.
One hour of writing after a 20-minute walk and an hour-long nap will be HUGELY more productive than six (or ten, or 100) hours of sleep-deprived “forcing it” work.
Every writer I know has tried to force copy during an overnighter at least once…
… and ended up tossing ALL of it in editing, and starting over.
Forcing it is an excellent way to miss a deadline and ruin your career.
You simply cannot cheat on the biological bill that comes due each day — nutrition, zzz’s, plumbing maintenance, exercise and brain stimulation.
Maybe in the future, you can have your head put in a glass dome and keep it fed with tubes so you can skip some of the physiological requirements of being human…
… but I’ll still put my hour’s worth of writing (after the walk and nap) up against whatever crap you produce in that state.
You’re a complex organism.
Stop pretending being a workaholic is some kind of heroic adventure.
It’s slow suicide and a waste of life-force.
The equation is very simple: Nurtured productivity > forced effort.
Got it? Good.
Now go take a nap, and order my book when you wake up and get back to pursuing your dreams…
P.S. No, seriously, order my book. It’s just to the right of this column, a nice big icon to click that will take you instantly to the correct Amazon page.
Okay, you lazy ass. Here’s the link, so you don’t have to scroll to the right…
P.P.S. Yeah, that’s me in the photo. Mid-fifties, back when naps were NOT to be missed, no matter how urgent is was to play another song on the guitar as your horse ambled off into the sunset…