A popular misconception about personal productivity is that productive people are effective because they jump from one task to another without losing their stride. Many people have an image of a productivity guru armed with a to-do list that crosses off one task after the other 24/7. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The most productive people achieve what they do because they acknowledge they can’t produce the same output 24 hours a day. They take time out to rest.
Recently, I read a novel where the Protagonist, a high-flying Lawyer for a big firm is able to close a very important deal by working for 2 days without sleep and surviving on a diet of coffee. Such behaviour is destructive. Productivity is about taking control of your schedule so you can have enough time to rest at the end of the day. If you are pulling all-nighters every week and can’t go home at a decent hour because you are always at the office finishing some last minute important task, it is more likely you have failed to prioritise tasks.
There may be times when a late night may be required. We call those times emergencies. What qualifies as an emergency will depend on the person and the line of business they are in. However, by definition, you can’t be having an emergency every night. They should be the occasional outlier in what should be an otherwise healthy daily output.
The most productive people take time out to rest. They go to bed at decent hours because they know without relaxation, the quality of their output will suffer. Such people use their lunch break because they realise it’s a perfect opportunity to reward themselves after a productive morning. They also know how to set realistic deadlines for themselves.
Someone I know recently made the decision to quit a high paying job because it was starting to affect their health. That person was apparently known as the person who replies emails at all hours and is available to work late nights. Unfortunately, they paid the price in poor health. Eventually, they made the decision to quit so they can recuperate and spend some time with their family. In their case, I am happy, they recognised what needed to be done and did it before the job literally killed them. Don’t let that happen to you.