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First with the most

Posted 13/02/2013 by cgodfrey

So Confederate cavalry general Nathan Bedford Forrest is reputed to have said during the American Civil War. What he is supposed to have meant was that the victor in any battle is likely to be the general  who gets the most troops in the right place and engaged earlier than his opponent, and as a cavalry leader he used the speed of his mounted soldiers to great effect.

But does this apply to our daily work?

There is increasing evidence that trying to keep up with the increasing workload and email onslaught that we all experience every day of our working lives, and even our out-of-work hours, is having a negative impact on our creativity. The message is: we need to relax more, take naps during the day, and have even more frequent holidays!

Well that’s what a recent article in the New York Times newspaper said: ‘Paradoxically, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less.’

According to the article’s author Tony Schwartz: ‘A growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategy renewal – including daily workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations – boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.’

Back in the 1950s researchers showed that we sleep in cycles of roughly 90 minutes – the Basic-Rest Activity Cycle (BRAC), and in the 1960s, it was discovered that this cycle continues into our waking hours as well. But during the day we move from a state of alertness progressively into physiological fatigues every 90 minutes, hence our dash of coffee to wake ourselves up and over-ride the cycles we are trapped in. And researchers at Florida University in the US have studied elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players, and discovered that the best performers typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last no more than 90 minutes, and rarely work for more than four and a half hours in any given day.

So with all that in mind, I’m just off for ‘forty winks’ to recharge my batteries!

Neil Eisberg - Editor

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  • Anonymous said:
    22/02/2013 04:06

    Hope you feel better for that, Neil. I used to find that my working day was always more productive if I moved between different topics at roughly 90 minute intervals preferably punctuated by a short walk or other exercise - and I thought it was just my poor attention span.

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