How to Recharge

I believe the reason people dislike Mondays is because they wasted the 48 hours in their weekend — they didn’t get any true rest, and thus never recharged.

They are more worn out on Monday morning than they were on Friday evening.

Benjamin Franklin

When men are employed, they are best contented; for on the days they worked they were good-natured and cheerful, and, with the consciousness of having done a good days work, they spent the evening jollily; but on our idle days they were mutinous and quarrelsome.

Idleness does not equal rest. It does not recharge our mind, body, or emotions.

Let’s define “rest” as time taken to relax, refresh, and/or recover strength.

If your energy, attitude, or motivation are suffering. Then, ideally, after you’ve rested — after you’ve taken time to recover your strength — then you should see an improvement in energy, attitude, or motivation.

The average American watches 5 or more hours of television every day. Some reports say as much as 7 – 8 hours. And, we spend more than 2 hours per day on social media — Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Television and social media, in moderation, are fine. But we are a culture of excess.

Here’s my informed observation about why and how we rest wrongly:

  1. We spend the day at work, doing knowledge work. We’re juggling emails, meetings, interruptions, checking our social networks on the side, and mostly spending all day long putting out fires and reacting to the urgent issues that arise.
  2. This makes us mentally exhausted
  3. We’re not very physically active (we’re sitting at a desk all day) and this leaves us physically tired
  4. Thus at the end of our day, we’re un-motivated. We lack physical and mental energy. So we default to watching television as something to do because we just don’t have any energy.

I’m not trying to say that our jobs are horrible and that watching TV is horrible. But I think many of us are probably closer to the side of unhealthy work habits and excess time spent on TV and glowing screens.

Now, there’s no way I can unpack this whole issue in one podcast. There is SO MUCH research and information about how to properly rest, relax, and exercise. Not to mention all the studies about the good and/or bad effects of TV and glowing screens in general.

My aim today isn’t to prove a point because my hunch is that most of you already agree: you’d like to have more energy, a better attitude, and increase in motivation. I mean, who doesn’t want that, right?

Today, I simply want to challenge how we’re spending our time and to get us to ask ourselves if we can do better.

  • Do you often feel completely drained at the end of the work day?

  • Do you rarely have motivation to work on anything that’s not an urgent burning fire crisis.

  • Do you usually spend your evenings watching TV and/or scrolling through timelines on your phone?

If yes, then I think something you should consider is if you can learn to rest in a healthier manner? Can the cycle of urgency addiction and vegging out be broken?

Our mind, our body, and our emotions all need to rest.

There is a healthy way to rest and an unhealthy way.

What can we do that will re-charge our emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical energy?

In his book, Mastery, George Leonard has a chapter on getting energy for the journey of mastery.

He says humans wear out from lack of use. Physical exercise gives us more energy. Decisiveness and intent to act often gives us mental energy.

He recommends several ways to help keep up our energy levels:

  • Maintain physical fitness
  • Acknowledge the negative and accentuate the positive — meaning, be a positive thinker and be kind to others, but don’t pretend that negative things don’t exist.
  • Tell the truth
  • Set your priorities: be decisive about what you’re going to do; clarity creates energy; accept your limits to find liberation.
  • Make commitments and then take action. Don’t procrastinate a decision, be bold and follow through.

I mean, these are just meat and potatoes lifestyle practices. And they’re pretty much the opposite of the whole “check email and sit in meetings all day, then come home and watch 5 hours of TV” lifestyle.

When we rest in a healthy manner, it recharges us. When we rest in an unhealthy manner, it leaves us feeling lethargic.

It might sound totally bonkers and the most monumental, difficult task ever, but what if after a long day at work you came home and chose to rest in a manner other than by watching TV?

So often, when we’re on the edge, we think that we need a big break. A vacation. We can’t wait for the weekend. We’re holding on each day, just getting by, waiting for our chance to finally unwind again.

But what’s a small little wrench we can throw into our routine that will snap us out of that draining lifestyle?

Cut out sugar. Read a book for 30 minutes before you allow yourself to watch television. Start taking a 15 minute walk during your lunch break. On date night, don’t watch a movie but pour a glass of wine and talk about life. Write in your Day One journal about what you did today instead of checking Twitter. Start coming up with 10 ideas every day.

As an aside, I want to talk about the myth of working on the weekends.

I wrote and researched a lot of my book, Delight is in the Details, when I was on vacation in Breckenridge, Colorado.

When my wife and I had the opportunity to visit Hawaii in 2011, I spent hours every day writing.

What’s great about this type of work is that it’s true, important work. It’s not urgent. It’s not busy work. It’s important. My mind thrives on this type of “work”.

The same way many people still go on hikes and runs and to the gym when they are on vacation, why not also let our minds work?

There is a deeper issue that this points to, and it’s the issue of urgent versus important. The work we do that invigorates us, that moves us forward in our life goals — that IMPORTANT work — shouldn’t be reserved for evenings and weekends and vacations.

But breaking a lifestyle and environment that thrives on urgency addiction is a topic for another day.

So in closing, I’ll leave you with this.

If you’re feeling perpetually tired, perpetually lacking motivation, perhaps the issue isn’t that you need more rest or more time off, but that the way you’re currently resting is not true rest.

Challenge yourself to just try something different. Like I said earlier:

  • Read a book for 30 minutes before you allow yourself to watch television.
  • Sit in silence with your phone in another room for 10 minutes before watching TV
  • Take a 10 or 15 minute walk during your lunch break.
  • On your date night, don’t watch a movie but pour a glass of wine and talk about life.
  • Write in your Day One journal about what you did today instead of checking Twitter.
  • Start coming up with 10 ideas every day.