Take A Break or Get Broken

Posted: 24th April 2011 by EricBierker in Wellness

One of the most difficult things for successful people to do is to stop doing. Every day is seen as an opportunity to get things done. But all of their doings will paradoxically undo them. The necessity of stopping work of all variety once a week for a 24 hour period is essential to getting a lot done. Here is why: Without letting the neurons cool, you will burn out.  In Jewish and Christian circles, it is called the Sabbath. It does not necessarily need to be on a Saturday or Sunday. It can be on a Wednesday. One also does not need to be religious to derive benefits from such rest.

The allocation of time and tasks to our duties and responsibilities relies much on our well-being. Anyone who tries to work when tired knows that the same task done later after a little rest might go twice as quick, with a higher degree of quality. Stretch this idea out to cover a day and it is the same concept.

When students are in college, it can be difficult to chill out because they may have classes every day during the week. So, rest cannot happen for 24 hours during the week M-F. Then, the weekends might be jammed full of part-time employment. So, everyday in the week has some amount of work in it, either school or a job. And, the job is needed to pay for school, so  it is not discretionary income.

Thus, some serious intentionality is required to get that rest structured.  It is usually possible to create a school class schedule in college where one can have a day off…it might be an odd combo but remember that rest is mandatory. If that cannot be done, then work at a job on one day during the weekend for 12 hours and take the other day off. Something has to give before you do. People who neglect this often wind up having rest forced upon them with illness. So, your body shuts down and you now are sick on top of it rather than just being tired.

I made two promised to myself before I began my Ph.D. program while working full-time for most of the time.

One, I would try to obtain every article I needed for research electronically and avoid microfilm, microfiche, and the stacks. I grew up with this maddening technology and had no desire to return to it. I had one exception to this rule…if a a professor insisted that I needed to read an article that was not available electronically. That happened once in eight years and the article wound up being useless.  A fool’s errand.

Two, I would take every Sunday off from school work as well as work work (my school counselor position). Although I have a proclivity to leave work at work (I stay until I get it done), there are times I am forced to bring it home to complete it. Except for a couple of unavoidable emergencies, I was able to abide by this rule also. There will be times that working on a rest day will be unavoidable. It is an imperfect world, but this must be an exception rather than the rule.

I trust that God, in order to honor his Commandments, gives me the means to do so. If I work on Sunday, I think it is the case that I am not trusting God and His promises. Again, don’t be dissuaded from the soundness of this idea if you are not of the faith. Have faith that it is true.

There were days where I literally worked from waking up until midnight…then I quit. It all worked out. I still prospered in my job and earned my Ph.D. So, it can done. Not many can earn a Ph.D. while working, so if I can do it, you can follow this rest principle, too.

Rant Aside: As a note, my Ph.D. program was not one of those doctoral programs where students take online courses with a two-week residency over the summer. I had classes during the week in Philly, leaving work at 2:00 pm, and not getting home until 10:00 PM, making such days 17 hours in duration. Many classes, a 90 credit program. A full-year residency. A Major Area Exam and a Comprehensive Exam. $ 100, 000 of our our own money (tuition and two sabbaticals, one full year during the dissertation writing).

These doctoral-lite programs are much less rigorous and demanding, despite allowing people to put Dr. in front of their name’s also. I am not saying they are not beneficial, just much less so. Just remember, you get out of something what you put into it. And if your school cuts corners and dumbs-down the demands, in the end you have not gained as much as you could have. Frankly, it bothers me that others can get the credential without the great sacrifice.  I know what my Ph.D cost me and it cost a lot. And, such academic inflation, devalues all doctorates.

How about this Urano Bed? Sleep chic. Looks like a great place to rest in style. I like it because it would allow my feet to hang over the end with some piece of wood jutting up. Being 6’8″, I  need to have the ability to elongate without restriction. You will have to excuse me now…it is Sunday. I need to rest. Peace.

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