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Issue #36: Practice active recovery


James Costa

November 28 · Issue #36 · View online

A batch of thoughts, resources, and motivation from a friendly digital agency owner delivered every Monday at 6am ET.

I have a personal trainer that I see twice a week who keeps me accountable for my health and fitness. During each set of workouts, he tends to throw in an element of “active recovery” whereas we keep the body moving even though the exercise is more sedentary (such as a “plank” or a “wall sit”). Even though the body is able to rest, it’s still working and keeps the momentum of the workout (instead of resting whereas 30 seconds can easily turn into a few minutes once you start looking at your phone).
Breaks in our workday tend to have the same effect (and those effects are multiplied when you work remotely). How often does a quick break turn into watching another episode of Black Mirror? With an increased ease of distractions, sometimes taking a break can end up opening the floodgates of unproductive behaviors.
I’ve written about brain fog and how we can use mindfulness to help push through mentally unproductive times, but I believe a significant reason we resort to these behaviors when we take breaks is because our minds are in work-mode and want to be stimulated in some way. Active recovery allows us to replace those unproductive behaviors with productive ones that balance rest while not sacrificing momentum.
Overall it’s pretty simple, but starts with a bit of preparation. You should always have a list of small tasks you can get done without thinking. Ideally these would be things unrelated to work so that you still get a sense of separation. It could be a phone call, sending an email, or even just running CleanMyMac. If you’re feeling adventurous, put things like meditation or taking a walk and listening to music on the list. Regardless, this list will act as your list of things you can do when you want to take a break.
(Pro tip: turn off notifications to all social services on your phone, and close that Facebook tab. The harder it is to get to distractions the better. You might even consider going hardcore with apps like SelfControl or Hey Focus.)
From there, the focus should be on not stopping. While this might sound like it’s the opposite of taking a break (and everything I’ve said about mindfulness), I find it allows for higher efficiency and feels better at the end of the day (so you can not feel guilty while lurking your friend’s new boyfriend on Facebook). It’s really all about delayed gratification.
And that’s it! Productivity requires work, and I believe the reason some people can hustle harder than others comes down to their dedication to the art. Are you dedicated?
PS: If you enjoyed this week’s issue, I’d really appreciate your support sharing it. Whether it’s a forward, a Twitter post, or writing my name with Christmas tree decorations, it would mean the world.

Why I stopped paying attention to industry news
How Loss Aversion and Conformity Threaten Organizational Change
Letting go to grow — Lessons learned on the path to becoming a better leader
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”
― Bruce Lee
In true Cards Against Humanity fashion, the makers of the wildly inappropriate card game decided to take Thanksgiving to the next level and dig a big hole. They collected donations and live streamed the whole thing, and raised over $100k to dig a hole for 48 straight hours. If that’s not entrepreneurial thinking, I don’t know what is!
As always, if you have any questions or I can help you in any way, all you have to do is respond to this email!
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