Author Tony Schwartz wrote a piece in the New York Times last year entitled "Relax! You'll Be More Productive." The gist of the article focused on using relaxation to combat the overwhelming demands and pace of work life today.
Specifically, Schwartz advocates "strategic renewal" which includes daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, frequent vacations and more time away from the office.
I often run into friends and ask how they are. A common response is "busy." Heck, that's often my answer. Then I usually launch into all the work related things I'm embroiled in, as well as my family commitments, etc.
Perhaps we think being busy is a sign of success and engagement. Except that it's not. Truly successful people have the right work/life balance. They're not harried and overworked but rather relaxed, well rested and engaged. And by successful, I don't mean financially. I mean they're happy.
A few years ago I discovered an artist named Rick Howell on the internet. I read an article about him where he talked about his busy work life. One day he saw a guy in an open top jeep at a stop light. It got Howell to thinking about how free the guy in the jeep looked, and how trapped and unhappy Howell was in his stock broker work.
He ended up leaving the corporate world and becoming a full time painter. He moved to a 150 year old adobe home and studio in Colorado. No doubt his income may have changed, but he spent his days painting outdoors and in his studio, completely engaged and happy. Clearly for Howell, living a hectic and busy life was trumped by a slower paced, artistic life.
Sadly, Howell passed away in 2012, but imagine if he had never followed his heart and been denied all those fulfilling years as a full time artist?
For many of us it may be too difficult to change our lives as drastically as Rick Howell did. But that doesn't mean we can't create a better work/life balance. I have been guilty of hopping on the workaholic train, coming in early and leaving late. But the quality of my work wasn't any better than when I took more personal time to recharge.
In the studio I noticed that my art improved when I took frequent breaks to go for a run with my dogs or relax in my wife's amazing garden. In fact, Tony Schwartz recommended that folks work in 90 minute intervals and then take a break to maximize efficiency.
So, if you want to find more happiness and fight back stress, consider doing less to accomplish more! Those naps will recharge your creative batteries and improve your art. Idle hands may be the devil's workshop, but a rested spirit can brighten the artist's studio!