Most people don't have a rhythm of work. After all, a rhythm consists of beats and pauses. There's some variety there, otherwise we lose interest.
Contrast that with the push-push-push of the working world. We often tend to think of work and productivity as something that's steady. Our conditioning tells us that work is a relentless drill, not a skillful dance.
There's no rhythm there, no art, no variety. It's rather dull. Let's explore how to do this better:
Our normal rhythm of work
When wondering if I should be taking a break, my wickedly-smart friend Stephen Cull shared something with me that made my jaw drop. Since I knew that it could also be helpful for other people, I got his permission to include it in a blog post.
Here's what he shared with me:
That's a lot of useful information in a few paragraphs. Let's unpack these lesson:
Instead of following this unhelpful conditioning and pushing harder the more tired we are, we're better off taking a break and returning once the collective rhythm picks up again. I call this "the art of aligned productivity."
What I took away from my friend's wise words is that it's ineffective to go against our natural, collective rhythm of work.
We're living, breathing organisms with natural fluctuations in our levels of productivity. When we go against those rhythms, we expend more energy. If you don't believe me, just try doing something complex at a time when your body is used to sleeping.... or get people to show up to a webinar just before the holidays.
Other animals know about their rhythms. Some hibernate. Others are only active during certain times of the day or night. And it's not just animals: Many plants are seasonal. Tides ebb and flow.
In other words, life on earth seems to have a rhythm, a rhythm we have lost. By beginning to follow that rhythm once again, we can improve our lives and our productivity.
As Michael Jackson put it (I didn't think I'd be quoting him but this one is spot on):
“To live is to be musical, starting with the blood dancing in your veins. Everything living has a rhythm. Do you feel your music?”
That's a long-winded way of saying that I'll be taking my friend's advice... and taking a break!
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