Overhauling productivity with the power of daily ‘rhythm’

Posted on March 6, 2014. Filed under: Events, Human Capital | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Thea O’Connor, Naptivist and Founder of NapNow, looks at why it’s time to overhaul our approach to ‘productivity’ and put some rhythm back into our working days. 

neuresource group is hosting Thea at our next working breakfast on Friday, 28 March 2014. Join us for an engaging discussion on the “Antidotes to Tiredness & Fatigue in the Workplace”. The breakfast will be followed by a half-day masterclass for those who want to delve deeper.  Please register by 20 March to secure your place. Download a brochure for more information.


Image: Wallcoo

Image: Wallcoo


Working harder no longer offers a competitive edge – everyone’s doing it.

Besides, national statistics indicate that this approach to productivity is leaving too many people, energetically speaking, in the red: tired and stressed, with personal health and relationships taking the brunt, as well as workplace performance.

    • one in three fulltime Australian workers and almost one in two fulltime working mothers say they are “extremely tired or completely exhausted all of the time”, according to the Australian Work-Life Index 2010.
    • 60% of respondents to Australia’s largest sleep survey conducted to date, said that lack of sleep impaired their productivity

At the same time, our world is in the midst of a make-or-break search for more sustainable ways of living. Do you get the irony of ‘burning out’ while trying to solve the earth’s energy crisis?

It’s time to try a new approach.  Especially when future predictions only point to an increase in complexity and rate of change in the workplace.  Creativity and energy will be prized more than ever before  – inner resources that are not cultivated by working long and hard like machines in a linear fashion.  Rather, we need flexible, non-linear ways to quickly refresh our focus and spark fresh thinking.

So what can we learn from the experience of human burnout as well as our attempts to conserve and wisely use our planet’s limited energy?

Well, there appear to be some common pathways to energy depletion, both of the earth and in the human body.  These include:

    • ipad-art-wide-candle-snuffed-420x0a disregard for the real limitations on our energy reserves
    • an over-reliance on non-renewable energy sources
    • a drive to sustain intense output over a prolonged period without pause, and
    • a tendency to ignore the early signs of depletion

Here are a few thoughts about how we might avoid falling into these traps.

Respect our physical limitations.  Respecting our limits isn’t something modern Western culture encourages us to do. We are taught to break down barriers, reach for the stars, and never-say-never.  Well, personally, I have found that respecting my own limitations by choosing to do less is incredibly liberating and restorative. As long as we are grounded in our human bodies, there are basic needs and limits that warrant respect. Eat when hungry, rest when tired, say no when too busy.

Increase our reliance on ‘renewable’ sources of energy.  Most of us rely on a coffee to get us going in the morning, a sugar hit to get us through the afternoon and good dose of stress that keeps us wired.  These ‘non-renewable’ sources of energy are sure ways to over-ride tiredness short-term, but in the longer term, they lead to depletion.

Instead, good food, enjoyable movement, mindfulness, short breaks including powernaps and a good night’s sleep are some proven ways to renew our energy. Getting off the addictive adrenaline train can be really challenging, but its ‘s refreshing for our adrenal glands, as well as our capacity to think well.

Tune-in to the rhythms of our living system.  All of our ‘operating systems’ – such as our cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, and hormonal systems, are cyclical, not linear, with ebbs and flows over a 24 hr cycle.  Imagine enjoying a work ethic designed around such biological rhythms, rather than over-riding them.  I do, and that’s why I’m such an advocate of normalising the mini-siesta in our work culture.  When our alertness dips mid-afternoon, as it’s genetically programmed to do even when you are well-slept, responding with a powernap is a proven way to boost mood, concentration, alertness and memory.

“Nature never hurries, yet everything is accomplished”.  Lau Tzu.


If you like the idea of honouring your body’s rhythms, and valuing downtime as much as uptime, why not take the pledge to Unplug on March 7–8 for the National Day of Unplugging.  Can you last from sundown to sundown without your technofix?  NapNow is hosting a breakfast seminar and workplace Nap-In at Hub Adelaide to celebrate.


Screen Shot 2013-01-22 at 2.03.34 PMThea O’Connor is a health and business writer, speaker & facilitator and founder of NapNow—normalising the mini-siesta in our working lives.  Her passion and specialty is creating workplace cultures that encourage and reward ‘renewable energy breaks’ including powernap breaks.  She offers a range of services designed to prepare, educate, facilitate and support workplaces in utilising this refreshing solution to daytime sleepiness. Thea recently presented a Radio National feature on the science of napping & the workplaces that are embracing it.

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