Science shows us our minds act in a similar way to our muscles.
To gain maximum physical strength, a bodybuilder has to not only work his or her muscles, but he or she must be diligent in allowing them to rest to grow and restore. In fact, a bodybuilder can actually lift more weight when he or she rests between sets and even more important, between workout days.
If I have to do 500 reps with a 300 lb barbell over the next week, I’m going to be more likely to accomplish this by doing 100 reps per day with a rest day in between than if I try to do all 300 reps in one sitting, or even if I tried to do them one day after another.
Do the same with your mind and you’ll find you accomplish so much more.
How the Pomodoro Technique Works
One of the way I do this with mental activity is by doing work “sets” using the Pomodoro technique. With this, I work for 25 minutes with intense focused effort and then take a 5 minute break. I do four cycles like this and then take an extended 20 minute break. During the 5 minute breaks, I always make sure I get up from my desk and I walk around, evening going outside to get some fresh air. Take some time to look at the birds, the clouds or even just sit and close your eyes.
In Episode 5 I give you some tools you can use to help you utilize the Pomodoro technique using your smartphone or tablet.
In Addition to Breaks in the Day, Take a Break at the End of Each Day
In addition to your periodic breaks during the day, make sure you allocate some time to rest and recuperate at the end of the day with some solid down time. I’m not referring to time when you’re just sleeping in bed, though that’s vital, you need time to just relax while you’re still awake. Maybe it’s time sitting on the patio watching birds, or sitting on the floor playing with the kids. Real solid rest.
Keep in mind, TV time isn’t rest time, that’s entertainment time. Video games, especially the violent ones can actually work the opposite of real rest time.
Even if the only time you have is 10 minutes to sit with your eyes closed, do it, focusing on your breathing and intentionally relaxing the individual muscles in your body.
Take A Weekly Break as Well
In addition to your periodic breaks through the day and the end of the day rest times, I strongly encourage you to observe a weekly “sabbath” or day of rest. Even though the sabbath has religious connection, it isn’t something you should feel an obligation to follow, but rather something for which you look anticipate with eagerness. Be intentional about recharging and doing something fun which brings pure joy. This will bring you back stronger and more mentally focused at the beginning of the following week.
Work Hard and Play Hard
Remember, successful people work hard and they always play hard. The harder you play, the harder you’ll be able to work. So don’t overlook that down time and you’ll always have the mental energy and focus to push harder than ever in your efforts.
Guilt free rest…. focused intense effort… rest… work… rest… work. It’s the recipe for incredible success.