Are you trapped in the cycle of overwork? Feeling exhausted and uninspired as you grind through a laundry list of tasks that never seems to get any smaller?

What if I told you the key to being more productive was working less?

Author and productivity expert Cal Newport claims that most of us can only manage a total of 4 deep, focused hours of work each day. After 4 hours, our ability to work effectively decreases along with our overall performance.

If this is true, why do so many of us feel the need to do 10-hour workdays?

Could we just be playing catch up with our own inefficiencies?

Not only is overworking inefficient, but without adequate rest, our brain is never able to fully reach its creative problem-solving potential. When we’re not focussed on anything in particular and our mind is free to wander. Our brain’s default mode network (DMN) becomes active, and we naturally begin to synthesize the information we’ve absorbed while focused, and come up with solutions to problems. By never taking time out to rest, not only are we suppressing  DMN activity- we might also be suppressing innovative solutions to the problems we’re working so hard to solve.

Simply put, there’s a reason that Archimedes cried eureka! while he was in the bathtub, and not while he was busy working!

If we’re constantly working, we’re less productive, less creative, and (probably) not as happy, either.

So if this is the case, why not get some rest from time to time?

If you want to find ways to incorporate more rest time into your life, check out my top 5 tips below!

1. Take at least one full day off a week

In one study, a group of executives who were all accustomed to working 7-day weeks were instructed to take one day off a week. While they were reluctant to do so, believing that the work would pile up in their absence, the participants found that they were not only happier and prouder of their accomplishments, but they reported higher levels of productivity!

2. Go for a walk

Walking isn’t just good exercise. Walking also helps our brain enter a state of light focus, and relaxation (that’s the DMN in action!). Here, our minds can wander freely and effortlessly. We’re able to view problems from different angles and devise creative solutions.

3. Disconnect from work

Depending on your work or life situation, your ability to disconnect will vary, but in general, the more you’re able to disconnect, the better.

This could include:

  • Switching your phone off
  • Not thinking about, or discussing work
  • Escaping into a book, or hobby
  • Take a holiday

Disconnecting regularly can give us the chance to enjoy life, play, rest, and then re-connect with more enthusiasm, focus and presence.

4. Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR) Activities

As the name suggests, NSDR is a way to reap some of the benefits of sleep, without sleeping.

Devised by Dr. Andrew Huberman, NDSR activities are a series of scientifically-backed protocols including Yoga Nidra, self-hypnosis, and guided meditations which are designed for a mid-day performance boost.

So if you’re feeling tired and need a pick me up in the middle of your work day, these protocols are an awesome way to return to work feeling alert, calm, and rested.

5. Take a short nap

Far from being a sign of laziness, taking a short mid-afternoon nap has been shown to be a powerful way to recharge your batteries, and increase productivity and brain health.

A study has shown that people who took a 30-90 minute nap performed better on a series of memory and attention-related tasks than those who didn’t nap, or took longer naps.

In other words, as long as you’re not napping for too long you don’t need to feel guilty about taking a quick power nap from time to time!