Healthy Productivity vs Overworking

Last week I spent traveling back to my parent's house (which meant many family and some professional meetings… and work in between), migrating Nozbe to a new server infrastructure (which we finished with my CTO Tomasz at 4 am) and lots of flights… and when I finally came back home… we flew with my family for a 3-day weekend to Barcelona… which meant yet another early flight…. On Saturday I started feeling tired after all this back-and-forth…
Body
My body said "stop" at 10 pm on Saturday

So there we were, enjoying our weekend in sunny Barcelona with our friends. Saturday evening and we just put our kids to sleep (they have a 2-year old, too) and we sat to have a late dinner, poured in some red wine… it was going to be a lovely evening… and then I fell asleep by the table :-(

It was amazing. My body just said "stop" and in the middle of a conversation I fell asleep. Seriously, I barely finished talking and then my body shut me down. I woke up amazed, my friends and my wife looked at me strangely and I said politely: "guys, I'm really sorry but my body is telling me something. I need to rest, we'll finish it tomorrow, good night"… and I went to bed at 10 pm (which is really early in Spain).

Listen to your body carefully and avoid fatigue… and stress

The next day I woke up at 7 am feeling really rested and happy. My body felt great, too. I needed it and I'm happy I recognized it. I knew that I spent my last week working and traveling too much and my body needed a well-deserved sleep and rest.

Yet, I've seen some of my friends totally losing it. One of my friends was working 12-14 hours a day, driving a lot, doing lots of meetings and completing many projects. He was really productive… without a family life. And after only 3 years of doing this his body said "stop" but not in a way my body did. It was a psychic breakdown and looked like a heart attack. The body just shut down. After that he needed more than a year of rehabilitation to get back to his usual self. It was really painful for him and for his loved ones.

We are not invincible and we should take care of our body

The incident from this weekend when I simply fell asleep reminded me that "what goes around comes around" and we should really make sure that if we work a little too much… we need to rest accordingly. There's just no way around it. I'm 32 and I feel young but there is a reason why some of my colleagues working for big corporations get heart attacks between 30-40 years old.

Over-work is not sustainable. We should rest according to our involvement and we mustn't take our health for granted.

The bottom line - if you work too much, your body will suffer. And without your body you can't get anything done. Take care of it. Rest. You're not invincible.

And what do you think? How do you rest?
I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 (productivity)

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lexmirnov
Aug 15, 2011 18:40
I'm resting right now in a hotel by the sea not far from Barcelona. It's a first time I took a break in my work in year. And only after a week of nothing-to-do I realized how tired and weakened I had been after this working run. Regular work is kind of hypnotizing thing, you just do it repeatedly and have no idea how to relax.
TesTeq
Aug 16, 2011 07:19
My body wanted to stop after 7km run but I forced it to run 10km more yesterday.
Michael Sliwinski
Aug 16, 2011 09:14
It's a different thing when we want to push our body to perform better and we do it consciously, than when we constantly overwork and don't realize we are pushing our body to hard... and we are not listening to it. Thanks Lexmirnov for great comment and have a fantastic, relaxing time. Testeq, keep running :-)
Arkadiusz Dymalski
Aug 17, 2011 21:56
I'm quite sure that for many people it might be just 'better', more insidious mechanism of autohandicap. 'I made a mistake because I've been working too much recently' is better for self-esteem than 'I failed because I didn't work enough'. Feeling of comfort remains untouched.
Michael Sliwinski
Aug 17, 2011 22:32
We fall into this positive attitude of overworking and think we're great without taking our own body into account. Great point Arkadiusz! Thanks for bringing this up!
Timo Kiander
Aug 19, 2011 06:57
Michael,

I agree. We have to listen to our body very closely.

I feel that in some sense resting is underrated nowadays, because people think that it is not productive.

In fact, it is just the other way around. Once you are well-rested, you get so much more stuff done

Michael Sliwinski
Aug 19, 2011 15:25
I get that wrong, too. I think, running for an hour is a wasted time... but how much energy I have after this is incredible. We underestimate the power of resting definitely. Timo, great comment, thanks!