As a pregnant entrepreneur preparing for maternity leave, my to-do list has grown exponentially since becoming pregnant. The irony of it is that I should really be giving myself more breaks and time to rest now to help the baby grow and to prepare for the baby’s arrival.
Every wellness coach, doctor, and therapist will tell you that you need to sleep. I’ve learned that apparently I need to sleep 10 hours a day – which is outrageous. How am I supposed to accomplish all of my work on only 14 waking hours?
I was working on a podcast episode for my company the other day and I was just slogging through it – trying to power through but failing miserably. I had barely written a paragraph and it finally occurred to me that I needed to follow my own advice and give my brain a break. I’d been working for too long. My brain was telling me it was time for a rest.
So I napped for 30 minutes and 45 minutes after I woke up, the podcast episode was written. It was one of the clearest actual experiences I’ve had that proved how much more efficient and effective our brains are when we get to rest.
So without getting 10 hours of sleep a night or taking 30-minute naps in the middle of the day, how can you get this rest for your brain and be that productive person? Here are 3 quick tips:
- Focus on one task at a time for a maximum of 1.5 hours (work up, starting from 20 minutes). Multitasking really takes a toll on your brain, according to neuropsychologists. So keep it healthy and productive by only doing one thing at a time. Keep your phone away from you and turn off email alerts to reduce some of those natural distractions.
- Take 5-minute “brain breaks” throughout the day (particularly after doing those long stints of focused work). Brain breaks are opportunities for your brain to truly rest. Brain breaks include: meditating, walking, yoga, stretching, and simply noticing all the wonderful things happening around you. Brain breaks do not include reading, puzzles, or checking social media because you are still working your brain for those activities.
- Remind yourself that “being busy” sounds cool in our society of overly stressed out New Englanders, but it’s actually counter-productive. Often when we are “so busy” we actually get less done because we can’t focus and our brains are exhausted. Sometimes we are “so busy” because we are putting in “face time” – we are there, we are saying we’re working, but we’re actually not really doing much if we are honest with ourselves. And even if we are trying our hardest, “being busy” means “powering through”, which means taking longer than we need to on tasks because we won’t give ourselves a break.
I’m constantly talking with parents about how to help their kids thrive. Part of thriving is figuring out how to be productive and engage in self-care (like taking care of our brains’ health!). The number one way kids learn is by watching their parents and mimicking that behavior. So, if you want your kids to thrive as adults, the best way is to show them how you thrive and take care of yourself!
It’s a constant battle that I’m struggling with as well, but be good to yourself!
Fireborn Institute is a non-profit that provides parents with practical and easy-to-remember strategies to help their children in school. Through our lectures, podcasts & handouts, we coach parents on topics such as helping with homework or conquering a messy backpack. Our ultimate goal is to help parents help their kids thrive at school.
About Katherine Firestone
Katherine had a hard time in school because she suffered from undiagnosed ADHD until her junior year of high school. What made her successful during this time was the support system she had around her. After college, she worked as a teacher, and saw that parents wanted to help their kids at home, but didn’t know what to do. She started the Fireborn Institute to give parents ideas on how to help because success at school is enhanced at home.
She is also the host of The Happy Student, a podcast for parents on promoting happy academic and social lives. The show provides practical strategies on a variety of topics based on Fireborn’s 4 pillars.