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One Habit of Highly Effective People I Follow (Almost) Everyday

15 Dec

cat nap

As a busy entrepreneur who is also the mother of an even busier toddler, you might imagine my days are scheduled by the minute and packed tight with meetings, conference calls, walks to the park and library classes – and they are. But I want to confess one habit I keep almost daily that will completely contradict your vision of a fast-paced, work-from-home mom.

I nap.

Yes, picture that! I prioritize about one hour of every afternoon during which I close my laptop, turn off my phone and snooze. I’m highly protective of this time and avoid scheduling meetings, calls or work projects if I can help it in any way. What I’ve found is something quite remarkable, that the days I go off the grid to re-energize, I actually accomplish more in less time than the days I forego my midday slumber.

There have been days when my to-do list was just far too long to justify a nap and I found that my creativity, efficiency and passion for my work substantial declined to the point where had I just stopped to rest, I would have accomplished the same amount of work in that time and likely would have done a better job. Now these are simply my own findings, but it got me thinking if this whole “nap habit” was something anyone else had caught on to or if it was my own justification for shutting down as soon as I got the least bit fatigued. I discovered I am in very good company.

According to this article, some pretty incredible people were habitual nappers. I’m talking Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan to name a few. Now, I’m not saying this was the only thing that led to their world-changing successes, but I do find it intriguing that this is one aspect of their lifestyles that they had in common.

The Benefits of Napping

Simply google the phrase “benefits of napping” and you will have more than enough material to convince you thoroughly. I highly suggest trying it out to experience these benefits first-hand. This article does a great job of highlighting some of the best ones. To summarize:

  • Boosts alertness – Even just 20 minutes has been shown to drastically increase alertness once you fully wake up
  • Improves learning and memory – Brain activity remains higher in nappers all day compared to people who don’t take a rest
  • Increases creativity – A nap is like an intensified way of walking away from a problem to find a solution. It’s amazing how you can come back to that issue that had stumped you before and come up with several new ways to solve it in minutes.
  • Boosts productivity – Studies have shown that a nap is more powerful than a cup of coffee to get you going again.
  • Puts you in a good mood – Here’s a simple example, have you ever been around a toddler pre-nap and post-nap? I “rest” my case.
  • Zaps stress – Even if it’s only for a short period (say 10 minutes), the sheer luxury of escaping for a nap can be a great stress-reliever.

How to Prioritize Your Nap

  1. Make it the same time every day

First, pick a time of day that general works best for you. When do you not have any other standing obligations? When do you normally feel most fatigued or distracted? When can you go “off-line” without anyone really missing you? Once you determine your nap time, respect it as part of your schedule just as you would any other commitment.

  1. Shut down all other distractions

Next, make the most of the precious time you carve out for your nap by turning off your phone and removing your computer from eye-sight. Don’t turn on the TV or read a book, rather lay down, close your eyes and let your mind rest.

  1. Set your alarm

To ensure you don’t get carried away with your nap (which can negatively impact the rest of your day by creeping into the time allotted for other tasks or making it hard to fall asleep at night), set your alarm. I have napping down to an art where I am asleep within a minute or two of closing my eyes and as soon as I hear my alarm, I spring back into action. You may need to experiment to find the perfect nap length that rejuvenates you without making you groggy, but once you find this sweet spot it is totally worth it!

  1. Napping is a priority, but also a privilege

Finally, remember that while napping is a healthy habit, you have to earn your nap each and every day by working hard when you are awake and being efficient with your time. For me, I know if I want that afternoon rest, I need to stay focused all other hours of the day, plan ahead and prioritize.

I’ll close with this final thought. Why do we believe that napping is something we must grow out of at a certain age? Just as it’s a healthy and necessary habit for my toddler to take his daily nap, I believe it’s just as healthy and necessary for us adults. Our daily activities may be different than a 1-year-old’s, but they are just as stimulating and demanding in their own way. Many cultures embrace an afternoon nap as a time to reset, allowing you to return to your duties with a fresh mind.

For as long as I continue to benefit from it, I will embrace the lifestyle of a habitual napper. While there are many more ways in which I could urge you to do the same, I’d rather end this article here so I can settle down for my nap.

Do you believe that daily napping could make you more effective at your job? Share why or why not by commenting below!

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16 Comments

Posted by on December 15, 2014 in Business & Success, Life

 

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16 responses to “One Habit of Highly Effective People I Follow (Almost) Everyday

  1. Craig Martin

    December 15, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Stephanie, you are so right on this — and thanks for reminding me to schedule in a siesta during my work days.

    Whether it’s a day full of projects, meetings, driving across the country or taking classes, taking a nap really does help in efficiency. Not only does it break the monotony, but (like you pointed out) that boosted alertness makes things easier to handle.

    Now I’m off to schedule my nap..

     
    • Stephanie Shirley

      December 15, 2014 at 9:49 am

      Thanks for the comment, Craig! It’s great to know there are some more “nap fans” out there that still incorporate this into their daily routine.

       
  2. spamfred

    December 15, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Not sure this is going to go down too well in the office if I just take a nap in the afternoon. Around 3pm would be the perfect time for a snooze as that’s always when my concentration level takes a tumble 🙂

     
    • Stephanie Shirley

      December 15, 2014 at 10:55 am

      Haha, yes the office environment is not conducive to naps. I have known some people who have their own office to close the door during their lunch hour and take a nap either on their couch or they bring in some bedding. To me it sounds less than comfortable, but somehow they do it! I agree that a 3pm nap is far better than a cup of coffee to perk you up. Enjoy them on the weekends!

       
  3. Hypersonic55

    December 15, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Good day to you Stephanie, as usual this was a great and insightful read. Napping is something I used to love doing when I was younger and it was one of my favourite parts of summer holidays. that being said, in recent times I haven’t found to be as much of an asset as a hinderance. After I started working full-time in hospitailty and doing night shifts, my internal body clock was messed up and falling asleep (napping) randomly in day and waking up afterwards just made me feel very grouchy and lethargic. From the way you describe it, it seems like it does have its benefits, however I’m not sure if it would do me any good haha.

     
    • Stephanie Shirley

      December 15, 2014 at 6:04 pm

      I imagine how night shifts of varying work schedules could throw off our sleep cycle! It still could be a benefit to help you get your 7-9 recommended of hours of sleep per day, just broken up. Sometimes if you wake up groggy, it could be because you slept too long (lots of science behind this). It varies from person to person. I like a 1-hour nap while others prefer a 20 minute rest. No matter how or when you get your sleep, it’s so important to get it somehow!

       
  4. ramakrishnan6002

    December 22, 2014 at 4:38 am

    Reblogged this on Gr8fullsoul.

     

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