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Rethinking Productivity: Embracing the Power of Rest and Self-Awareness

A few days ago, I took a 45-minute nap in the middle of a workday, and it was the most productive thing I had done that week. Since most of us define productivity as checking off a maximum number of to-do items in a short amount of time, sleep and productivity in the same sentence usually imply a negative outcome. Perhaps it’s time to change our perspective and definition of productivity?

Before I delve further, let me share a bit about that day and the subsequent nap. It was a remote work Tuesday, and I woke up feeling tired after a restless night of sleep. I sluggishly worked my way through my checklist and only managed to complete a quarter of what I normally would before lunch. Then, I made the mistake of having a carb-heavy meal, which further depleted my already low energy levels. As I left the restroom, I found myself making eye contact with my bed. It seemed to be calling me, so I decided to lie down for a quick stretch. The next thing I knew, 45 minutes had passed, although it felt like only 5. The strange thing, however, was that I woke up feeling ready to conquer the world. The lack of energy I had earlier was gone, replaced by razor-sharp focus, enthusiasm, and raw power. I caught up with my morning tasks, checked off the afternoon tasks, and even completed a couple of tasks scheduled for the next day, all within 4 hours. I then turned off my computer and embarked on a few small home improvement projects that same night, most of which I wouldn’t normally tackle before the weekend.

This experience led me to ponder what productivity truly means and whether sleep could fit into its definition. The problem with this perspective, though, is that there never seems to be enough hours in a day for an entrepreneur. Anything apart from checking things off our list feels unproductive. What if productivity wasn’t about managing time but about managing energy? If a 45-minute nap can double or triple your energy for the rest of the day, wouldn’t that nap be considered productive? What about a 45-minute walk, a bike ride, or lunch with a friend?

Asking these questions led me to the conclusion that being self-aware and managing my energy is the most effective way to be productive. Reframing my approach has helped me finish my days feeling less guilty and more satisfied overall. However, you can’t always overcome a state of low energy with a nap or another activity. When that happens, I adjust my priorities and take on tasks that require less energy to avoid getting discouraged.

Sometimes, you just need some “me time” to step away for a few moments. Other times, you need to be self-aware and fully present in the moment. Taking care of yourself first, before assisting others, will contribute to your long-term happiness, health, and productivity.

“One moment can change a day, one day can change a life, and one life can change the world.” – Buddha

Be well,

– Burak Sarac, Team Lead

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