In Stoicism, they often speak of the need for rest. That it does the brain well to have time for recreation. To work continuously will lead to diminishing returns. I agree with this as I assume most would. Working 90 hours per week on wall street can only last so long. The weekend getaway in the mountains has an almost tangible recharge guarantee. This shit is real.
The question I am curious about is at what scale is this true? Is it a 2x or a 10x effect?
When considering the question it becomes apparent to define the need to time-bound the scenario to answer the question. Or rather specific details are required of a situation first and then we can consider tweaking a variable.
Let’s consider the output for a single workday window of 8–5, 8 hours plus a lunch. If you were to work at full speed for the day this would impact your output the next. It is likely safe to assume that our mental endurance is similar to our physical. So if you were on a ski trip for example and you skied open to close the first day, that would impact you on day 2. Just like busting ass for 9 hours and skipping lunch on Monday, that will impact you on Tuesday.
Question: How does the previous day affect max output for the current day?
From the skiing example, max daily output can be reduced, but can it be charged?
To simplify let’s speak in terms of busy, average, and relaxing days. For me going to the beach, giving the kids iPad time in the afternoon, and ordering uber eats is about peak relaxation. If I did that on a Sunday I would definitely be fully charged on Monday. Could I be charged more, sure. I could have a perfect night’s sleep, the sun could be shining beautifully when I awake. My daughters could me they love me. Each of these items would add energy, but the return wouldn’t necessarily be huge if my day was already great.
For example, the beach day plus kiss from my daughter might go from 95% charged to 95.4% charged. But if the night before was shitty and out of the blue I get that same kiss I might go from 45% charged to 75% charged. I think the point is that there likely is some maxim energy charge that is impacted by the previous day.
This reasoning confirms the intuition that we already have. So who cares? Does this matter?
Yes as it can help add structure. Right now we all know that our previous day affects the current day. We understand how our energy is impacted, yet we don’t do anything systematically with this information. We bounce along randomly letting our energy go where it pleases always hoping for the best.
We are ready to go to work with 45% energy even recognizing that simple moments, like the kiss from your daughter, can boost our energy significantly. Sure the moment won’t be as impactful if it doesn’t happen randomly. But what if on those slow mornings you think “Fuck it, let’s go get some strawberry frosted donuts on a daddy-daughter date before work.” You start one hour late, but instead of 45% energy, you are at 90%. Skipping work for one hour could make you more productive.
It’s like we each need a tool kit and official checkpoint to review our energy levels. Why not every morning before work you write down your energy level. Anything that is below 75% you delay work and do one of our “energy boosters”. This might mean playing with the dog, playing 30 minutes of video games, an extended hot shower, your favorite breakfast sandwich, lifting weights, calling your mom, whatever. The point is to prioritize your energy to get the results you want. It’s not about who can put in the most hours, it’s about who can have the greatest impact, and to maximize the latter you must manage your energy.