R&R is very much underrated: we needs periods of renewal - to recharge our batteries and find inspiration. Our downtime may come in both smaller and larger doses. Often we all need a reminder of what we already know. So let's throw back a couple of decades and learn a thing or two from the likes of Star Trek's Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Lieutenant Commander Data and their escapades on the holodeck.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard
(As you all know), a holodeck is a Holographic Environment Simulator located on starships and starbases, used for recreation, training, and investigative purposes. I'm more so interested in the recreational side of things this time 'round. Remember how Jean-Luc Picard indulged in his childhood fascination with private investigator Dixon Hill, as the holodeck recreated a 1941 San Francisco for Picard to take on the role of his hero? This was his way of disengaging from the overwhelming responsibilities that came with being the captain of Starfleet's flagship vessel.
Lieutenant Commander Data
Remember our intriguing android, Data, with his endless quest to become more human, and especially to understand what humor was? In "The Outrageous Okona", Season 2, Episode 4 (TNG), Data uses the holodeck to generate a comedy club setting complete with an audience, where he tries his hand at being a stand-up comedian. On more than one occasion, Data uses the holodeck to explore these all-too-elusive human qualities and other existential questions. Here too, being an android that needs no rest, he finds a better environment for introspection and exploration.
Where is it... or what is it that allows you to disengage from life's pressures and responsibilities?
Remember Dale Carnegie? He could have been the fictitional Dixon Hill's contemporary. Here's a piece of his wisdom:
"... to prevent fatigue... the first rule is: Rest often. Rest before you get tired."
Pretty straightforward - but how does that play out in practical terms? Here are a couple of (classical) perspectives:
Throw in a Pomodoro or two
Ever heard of the Pomodoro Technique? At it's simplest, it's a time-boxing routine where one eliminates all distractions and focuses intensively on a task for a period of, say, 25 minutes... followed by a 5-minute break. One repeats this, and at the completion of a 4th Pomodoro, takes a 15-minute break. You should give it a try. Not only are the brief periods of disengagement a way of renewing one's focus - but also, very importantly, one is sufficiently disengaged to evaluate whether what you are working on is in fact a top priority or the most worthwhile activity you can be doing right now. Perspective. Productivity. Efficiency.
"Life is a series of sprints"
Here are some quotes from a game-changing book I've been reading,"The Power of Full Engagement - Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal":
- We must learn to live our lives as a series of sprints – fully engaging for periods of time, and then fully disengaging and seeking renewal before jumping back into the fray to face whatever challenges confront us.
- To maintain a powerful pulse in our lives, we must learn how to rhythmically spend and renew energy.
- Balancing stress and recovery is critical not just in competitive sports, but also in managing energy in all facets of our lives.
Not Urgent and Important
Don't tell me that you haven't heard of the Eisenhower Matrix, which the late Stephen Covey popularized in his book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People." Basically, quadrant II includes all of those activities related to the habit of "Sharpening your Saw". What does it mean to sharpen your saw? Basically, anything that will help you renew your energy and keep you balanced. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.
- I regularly take a little time out to do some slacklining, where traversing a cord strung between two trees requires one to put your stress aside in favor of a balancing act.
- Have you ever tried a full P90X workout? I'm not sure about you, but it's near impossible for me to have my worries uppermost in mind as I'm engaged in a series of Crunchy Frogs, Pfiefer Scissors and Mason twists - a sampling of the Ab Ripper X.
- I daily set aside a "Pomodoro" to read a book, similar to a few already mentioned. This gives me perspective and inspiration. It's invigorating. This way I can comfortably get through at least two powerhouse books a month.
Here's a post by a friend of mine, the creator of Gingko app, Adriano Ferrari. He writes about why he takes a week off every 7th. How many of us can actually do that? I can't... but... there are a number of lessons to be learned from the principle. It can be extended to "Thinking Thursdays", where Adriano blocks off a 90-minute period first thing in the morning to think through any number of challenges.
Now - just to get my hands on an Oculus Rift... the closest one can currently get to a holodeck experience.