M.A. Psychology, Oxford. McKinsey Alum. Founder & Editor at TAoL.
It’s my first day back in Camp 308 (my co-working space) in Pererenan (Bali) this morning after a relaxing 4-day break in the south part of the island.
And I’m feeling fantastic 💯🚀🤗
I’m energised, I’m excited to work on my projects, a lot of small stuff that was bothering me last week now seems trivial and I’m happy to be sitting here writing to you.
But that couldn’t be more different to how I felt Tuesday last week (just before my break started) which seems like a good thing to talk about today.
So here is something to remember: “There is no such thing as doing too much, only not recovering enough.”
I’ll repeat that again, just so it really sinks in: “There is no such thing as doing too much, only not recovering enough.”
It seems obvious and yet it’s amazing how many people I meet who lack balance (and common sense) in the way that they manage their energy.
You see there are three different kinds of exhaustion:
- Saturation: being sick of doing the same thing over and over;
- Tiredness: running your energy down during the day; and
- Fatigue: depleting your maximum daily energy over time.
Why is understanding that so important? Because when you know what the three kinds of exhaustion are you can start working out which one you’re suffering from.
And when you know what kind of exhaustion you’re suffering from, it becomes easy to design ways to manage your energy more effectively.
The secret to solving saturation is simple. When you’re sick of working on one kind of activity, take a break or do something different.
Think of it like this: If all you ate was spaghetti bolognese every meal for a week, you’d be so sick of it you wouldn’t even want to hear the word spaghetti again for a month.
But if you interleave it with other kinds of food, you could happily eat spaghetti on a regular basis – and enjoy it – every week for the rest of your life.
What that means is you should try and avoid working on any one project or task exclusively for so long you get sick of it.
Anyhow. The two kinds of exhaustion that I see people struggle with most, the two that I struggled with for years and years, are tiredness and fatigue.
You see our internal batteries work kind of like mobile phones.
We all know that we need to recharge at the end of each day (and maybe even get a quick top-up in after lunch) or there’s a good chance we’ll run out of steam when we’re half-way through an important phone call or responding to emails.
That’s tiredness – and solving tiredness is what sleeping and naps are for.
But what most of us don’t realise is that the quality of our batteries, the maximum charge they can hold, also goes down over time.
I’m still using the iPhone 6s I bought 5 years ago from a dodgy back-street market in Beijing. And I remember when that bad boy would last me a whole day on one single charge.
These days I’m lucky if I get four hours of work out of it. And it does that weird thing where it gets to 15% and then just shuts down without warning, just when I need to find out where my Uber is.
This phenomenon is fatigue. And it’s incredibly important because I’d guess over 95% of the people I meet, coach and work with suffer from it chronically.
And many of them don’t even realise it.
In fact, many of them have been so fatigued, for so long, that they don’t even remember what it’s like to wake up with a full battery running at its fullest capacity.
Worse, I meet people every day who are saturated AND tired AND fatigued and have no idea how unnecessarily hard that’s making life for them and the people around them.
Which is crazy. Can you imagine how much more productive and happier we’d all be if we weren’t trying to get through every day with a battery that’s worn down to a stub?
Anyway, the solution to chronic fatigue is simple: take at least 3 to 4-days of consecutive holiday days (and I mean real recovery days) every couple of months.
Ideally, you should do this at least once every 4 to 5 weeks.
(N.B., If you’re really run down you may need from a much longer break to reset your system. It took me ~6-months to fully recover after 3 years at McKinsey. I didn’t even realise how compromised my energy was until I finally got back to normal.)
This is the biological equivalent of replacing your mobile phone battery. And doing it won’t just supercharge your ability to get big stuff done. It will literally rock your world.
Anyhow. I’m going to sign off now but if you want to chat more about this stuff (and learn some other cool ways to get big stuff done week after week after week) you should sign up for our free training this Wednesday…
Here’s where you can secure a seat:
And otherwise, I’ll leave you by repeating it one last time, just for emphasis: “There is no such thing as doing too much, only not recovering enough.”
Mix up your work and look after your batteries and you won’t just feel more productive and happier – you’ll transform the whole of your life.
Good luck, be your best self and go well!
Arthur “I Need a New Phone Battery” Worsley