It’s useful to think very deeply about a situation but beyond a certain level of effort or length of time you need to do some drifting and recharge. I think you need a mental circuit breaker for detecting an impasse and triggering activities that can lead to a change in perspective.

Drifting

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
C. Northcote Parkinson “Parkinson’s Law

I hate to do low quality work and I refuse to fail for lack of effort. Working against a deadline has triggered many creative breakthroughs in teams that I have been a part of.  But sometimes working harder just means that work expands to fill my life and that delicious feeling of emerging possibilities is replaced with a sensation akin to  sleepwalking.

Here are a few things that work for me when I need to drift:

  • Meditate
  • Read a book
  • Go to a networking event and talk to strangers  (Bootstrapper Breakfasts have a blind date flavor I find re-energizing as well)
  • Call a friend or meet for a meal.

I always carry 3×5 cards and a pen so I can jot down any insights that occur to me and I keep a pad of paper on my nightstand so I can quickly jot a few notes down in the dark and go back to sleep.

I probably don’t do enough to block out my work periods and schedule breaks and a quitting time. What triggers your circuit breaker?

If  I start dreaming of final exams from high school or college I know that I have been redlining (running above my effective maximum workload). How much burnout do you have to experience before you realize you need a break?

What actions do you take once you realize you need to take a break?

A man ninety years old was asked to what he attributed his longevity. “I reckon,” he said with a twinkle in his eye, “it is because most nights I went to bed and slept when I should have sat up and worried.”
Garson Kanin

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