I’ve always been in favour of not working too hard but if one does then one should take it easy. In Australia many years ago it was considered the norm, but these days if you’re not zipping around like a blue-arsed fly (an old Oz expression) being productive and attentive to everyone’s needs then there is something wrong with you and you had better go seek help. My father worked hard all his life (still does somewhat in retirement) but when he worked it was always at a relaxed even pace.
Research suggests that a little power nap at work is best for productivity. It seems that you shouldn’t get too much though – any more than 15 mins can mean you get too drowsy. (But of course the best thing for productivity is to do what you love to do – that way a lot of what you do during the day won’t seem like work).
But how productive are we really? All those hours working, working, working. I remember years ago I had a colleague who was quite stressed out. His ran a printing business and it was a little disorganised and he created a lot of unnecessary work for himself. A big cause of all the stress was getting his kids to school and back home. His son went to a prestigious boys school and his daughter a girls school – on opposite sides of the city. He would be driving around like mad all over the place. He was always complaining about the business, the traffic, the wife, etc etc. But it was all his own creation. I wonder if his kids now look back and think what a great sacrifice my father made or do they think gees he was so stressed out all the time – why do it like that?
A lot of this “running around” work is completely unnecessary. This work that is all about matching your peers has been called “conspicuous work”. It really comes from being seen to be contributing – perceived status that carries anxiety about who we are and how we fit in society. A great book on this is Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton.
So take a nap at work if you need to. Ask the boss. Tell him you want to be more productive and see what response you get. If you work for yourself like I do then give yourself permission. And if you are the boss – well don’t get mad if you see someone napping at their desk after lunch. It could be power napping and it may be profitable.