Tag Archives: time management

Slow down, breathe your own air

flytrapFor many of us the pace of life will have accelerated to a fever pitch as the holiday season approached and we tried to complete time-sensitive tasks while being deluged with emails, messages, images, reports and demands for a slice of our time. Fredrik Sjoberg in his delightful book, ‘The Fly Trap‘ suggests that ‘if you think the torrent goes too fast, then in nine out of ten cases you can turn it off or just close your eyes and breathe your own air for a while.’ Nile crocodiles have a life expectancy of 100 years which some have attributed to their ability to slow their metabolism. ‘Unfussed, they can reduce their heart rate to about three beats a minute’ according to Peter Hughes. So in this holiday season: switch off, close your eyes, go mind-wandering (see my post entitled ‘Mind wandering‘ on September 3rd, 2014) and you are likely to live longer and have time for everything.

Happy holidays!


Fredrik Sjoberg, The Fly Trap, Penguin Books, 2015

Peter Hughes, ‘Gently does it’, Financial Times Weekend, 17/18 October 2015

Love an engineer


Photo credit: Tom

Some weeks ago I wrote about the benefits being completely disconnected from the ‘grid’ while on vacation [see my post entitled ‘Mind-wandering‘ on September 3rd, 2014].  What one of my colleagues has called going on a ‘deep vacation’.  For most of us our vacation, deep or otherwise, is a distant memory by now and, for many, the demands on our time far exceed the available time.  The temptation to work continuously is huge, particularly with smart phones delivering messages from our co-workers and bosses at all hours of the day and night.  Recent research has shown that if we want to be happy and productive then we should resist this temptation.  A survey of nearly 12,000 white-collar workers found that people feel worse and become less engaged when they work continuously and especially when they work more than 40 hours per week. By contrast workers who take a break every 90 minutes were more focussed (reportedly 30% more) and more able to think creatively (50% more).  The survey also found that being encouraged by your supervisor to take a break increases by 100% the likelihood that you will stay with an employer and also doubles your sense of well-being and health. Perhaps this is why Daimler encourage the equivalent of ‘deep weekends’ by automatically returning and then deleting emails sent to employees while they are off-duty.

These findings tie in with research in psychology reported by Oppezzo and Schwartz that suggests creativity is implicated in workplace success, healthy psychological functioning and the maintenance of loving relationships.  While Martin and Schwartz assert that creativity is ‘an important cognitive dimension of both mundane and specialized  forms of problem-solving’.

Engineers are creative problem-solvers so make sure yours stays successful, healthy and loving by encouraging them to take breaks and work less than 40 hours per week.


Why you hate work! By Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath in the New York Times on May 30, 2014:

Oppezo, M., & Schwartz, D.L., 2014, ‘Give your ideas some legs: the positive effect of walking on creative thinking’, J. Experimental Psychology, Learning, Memory & Cognition, 40(3):1142-1152.

Martin, L., & Schwartz, D.,  2014, ‘A pragmatic perspective on visual representation and creative thinking’, Visual Studies, 29(1):80-93.

End the tyranny of 24/7 email. By Clive Thompson in the New York Times on August 28th, 2014