Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I'm going on break.

I'm sure there are libraries of research on the effect of breaks/downtime/recess/chillaxing. If so, these results should be far better understood by the general public. If not, there should be way more research going on.

I believe, most Americans could benefit from more breaks. Most first world countries have mandatory vacation that is far better than the US's. Several of them are pushing towards a 35 or even 30 hour work week. But I'm not just talking about a break from work. We Americans (whatever that means... see previous post) need to practice shutting our minds off. Not distracting ourselves with TV or taking our mind off work by cleaning house, but simply unplugging for a few minutes/days.

Without these necessary breaks, our productivity slows as our stress rises. Our minds get caught in one idea; we get no fresh perspective on our problem. We just burrow through the problem like a mole; creativity dies. With breaks you don't have to think out of the box... with breaks, there is no box.

In the average US factory, and in our own lives, there is too much emphasis put on "productivity." We must realize that if we are to be truly productive there is an optimal amount of rest and breaks (resting certainly has diminishing returns).

It's not just the completion of tasks that suffers from lack of breaks, but also the ability the shift paradigms that is lost. A great example is the aftermath of 9/11. Those Americans that still believe the "War on Terror" can be won... need a break. The effects of not taking a break were very apparent about two years ago, when public approval of Congress was at an all time low. While the hoi polloi were beginning to gain composure from the terrorist attacks of 9/11/02... congress had been working tirelessly on what happened, how did it happen, how to prevent it from happening again, what else could happen, how can that be stopped... ad inifitum. They were digging through the dirt of the problem so hard, and so long, they needed to take a break (and still do)... and realize that terrorism can't be beaten by force. I appreciate their diligent work, but the point is, they need to take a bath.

I blogged on a similar topic here with a more personal bent. The cool kids may remember it.


Blogger Apayo said...

You are 100% correct. People need breaks. Currently EYE need a break... I've been so tunnel visioned these past weeks that I've put off homework to the point of, here i am sitting in the library and it's 12:15am and i will probably go to bed around 2 and wake up by 6:30 so i can cram information into by brain before my test at 10am. Damn. But, Monday was a better day... you will like my new idea for a painting series:)

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I concur. I have been cavorting with the demon named "avoidance" far more often than I should. I'm ready for Thanksgiving, Christmas, retirement, etc. I'm pining for a 35 hour work week and 5 weeks of vacation a year like France.

7:53 AM  
Anonymous Greggles said...

You should do an epilogue to this post that describes my life the first entire week after finals let out every year of university and how i would spend my time. that is chillaxing.

6:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just so you don't think that we disagree on everything, I read this just a few days after returning from a management meeting in Chicago. And you are so right on this. Even though I was away on business, it gave me enough time out of the box to clear my head. I came back to Californy refresed and energized. I am always ready for a break!

7:12 PM  

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