During the day, it's easy to get caught up trying to solve problems that seem to stump you. Sometimes you get stuck thinking about things that are beyond your control or influence or trying to solve problems by simply applying more hours instead of better thought. And before you know it, you've sabotaged your entire workday. We've all been there.
Thankfully, there's an entirely untapped block of time and a creative resource you can delegate to and use to help you solve the toughest conundrums, and you probably ignore and neglect it every day. To get the most out of your days, save the unsolvable or important decisions for your sleep shift.
Some mental challenges need to be marinated before a solution can be found.
They need to be allowed to soak in the juices of our subconscious mind in order for us to unravel new insight and approaches to addressing them. So sleep on it, and let your subconscious have a whack at the problem. The creative, nonlinear thinking may be just what you need to develop that next breakthrough.
While some decisions may require a quick response, often our own desire to feel comfortable with the near-term gratification of a known decision prevents us from patiently and thoughtfully wrestling with a challenge for a while to ensure we make the right decision. Spending time to consider the important things in life is a discipline, a skill that is developed over time.
Far too often, we make impulsive decisions that protect the infinite potential of tomorrows while sacrificing what we could accomplish today.
We don't want today's problems to follow us into tomorrow. Tomorrow is for other work. We want to solve them today. We are more likely to eagerly toil away the day on the same challenge. And according to studies, we often make little progress and mentally perform poorly after the first two hours, as the mental effort fatigues after about 90 minutes. Some of this critical thought work could be set aside for the sleep shift.
If your sleep shift is neglected, that's eight to 10 hours of unconscious productivity and performance per day that you're missing out on.
Plenty of studies emphasize the benefits of increased creativity and problem solving. In an always-on, high-performance society, we need to shift the conversation to take the sleep shift seriously as part of our regular work cycle. Study after study shows that most Americans are showing up to work burned out and exhausted, and it's brought a huge productivity slump with it. By skimping on the sleep shift, we're failing to be productive on both fronts, whether awake or asleep.
The connections are clear. That eight- to 10-hour window of your sleep shift is not only the space in which you recharge your batteries, but it's also where your unconscious mind goes to work to make sense of the things in your day. It makes nonlinear connections that can be leveraged for creative thoughts and new solutions to some of your toughest problems.
So instead of throwing good effort after bad, and spending a fatigued mind on a stale problem, sleep on it.
Let the subconscious mind do its thing on the sleep shift. And spend the waking shift moving forward on the things you know you can get done.
Separating the challenges and decisions that you face into two shifts--one for the waking hours and conscious thoughts, and the other for the unconscious, nonlinear, and creative thoughts of the sleep shift--will give you a new strategic advantage to your work. Add "let me sleep on it" to your business playbook, use your whole brain, and enjoy the benefits of restful sleep and thoughtful consideration.