Manage Exhaustion

It amazes me how animals take a rest when they are exhausted and then try again when they have their energy back, while humans tend to either not try at all or go on and on way past their effective pace until exhausted.



How Does Exhaustion Affects Us?

A rested person (may be a couple of weeks of rest), is happy and full of energy. They can do almost anything and can 'take on the world'. As they work they get tired and their energy and enthusiasm declines. There comes a point when they pass below their effectiveness threshold. They start making mistakes, get moody, irritate others, irritate themselves and become even less effective. This can become a pattern which keeps them in this ineffective state. When lots of people like this are together it becomes what is commonly known as 'politics' - specifically 'office politics'. Given energy, lack of stress and logical thinking most (but not all) would sort out their differences without descending into conflict.

Personal Energy is Finite

Personal energy is like candle wax, effort burns it away and rest grows the wax back. The rate of 'burning' energy needs to be monitored and managed so that a state of ineffectiveness does not occur. The better it is managed the more effective the individual is and the more days they can work before needing a vacation.

Avoid Unlimited Thinking

Many people are brought up to 'do their best' and 'keep at it'. While intending a benefit for the child this is unlimited thinking and detrimental to the child because they do not know when enough is enough. They usually find out the hard way when collapsing with exhaustion, physically and/or mentally. As they grow up they are not as effective as they could be because they work too hard for short periods and poorly over longer periods. Sometimes they are fired for underperforming although they have worked very hard. Consistent pace with solid performance, over longer periods is well regarded by employers.

Structure Your Day to Avoid Exhaustion

Every day (work or play) must be divided up between sleep, amusement and work. Sleep must be 7-8 hours per day, no less, no more for optimum health. Importantly getting to bed the same time each day is important as the body has a natural rhythm which if upset can lead to chronic tiredness similar to jetlag or a hangover. Work (needed effort) includes a job, school, deep thinking, chores, etc. Amusement (wanted effort) is everything else done while awake (including daydreaming). Depending on the person the maximum work time in my opinion is 7-9 hours per day. I'll leave the how's and why's for another topic, but I will say that balancing a day like this will increase anyone's effectiveness.

Detecting the Signs of Exhaustion

A person's mood is the best indicator of when they have worked too much and dropped below the effectiveness threshold. I monitor my mood (my inner child) for the following indicators;

When these signs are noticed, stop and take a break. Move away from your work for 5-10 mins, go to the bathroom, stretch, have a laugh (without disturbing others) or have a quick (healthy) snack. Of course these are just some signs of overwork and can be confused with the individual's personality traits. Individuals will need to notice what is different from their normal behaviour to get an accurate reading of their mood.

A Beacon of Contentment

A content person is enthusiastic, full of energy and very effective at what they apply themselves to. Remember back to a time when you were like this, then use it as a beacon to remind you where you need to be, and how far away you are from it. It will take time to get to know yourself, be patient and kind to yourself.