When the Industrial age began in the 18th century, the workers worked in shifts of 12-16 hours, often without any breaks. It goes without saying that circumstances were tough, bordering on inhumane, yet people had to work away since there were no alternatives in sight.
After World War II, things changed. Workers were now no longer viewed as automatons, but individuals who gravitated toward certain motivations. Prof Douglas McGregor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) propounded a couple of theories in the 1960s called Theory X and Theory Y.
Theory X signified that most people are not ambitious and find work distasteful. They have to be directed. It was a typical depiction of the command and control mindset that pervaded many organizations in the ’60s and ’70s.
While the world has come a long way since the industrial age and command-and-control culture, the remnants still remain. Even today, in many places, you are expected to work 24*7.
The fact is that we are not hardwired to do continuous work. Even when we were hunter-gatherers, we only worked 15-20 hours a week and spend the rest of the time on leisure.
Well, if your goal is to do inspired work, you must work like a hunter-gatherer or better, yet a lion. Fire on all cylinders when the situation demands it. Rest when tired. Repeat.
When you don’t feel inspired to work, don’t work, don’t overthink, don’t overexert yourself. Instead, spend that time doing something that does not require cognitive overload. Listen to music, chat with friends, go for a walk, draw something – you get the picture?
To break monotony of work, work in short bursts. These sprints of productivity can keep you hyper-focused on the task at hand. It also helps you get in the flow. The thought that you are racing against time to get something done brings in a sense of urgency.
I recommend using the Pomodoro technique to work in short sprints. You can use one of the several Pomodoro apps available or simply, use the timer in your phone’s clock.
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