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Let's say I work at my most productive hours and I do a lot of work. At a certain point, I will become tired. Self-discipline might make me work for another hour or so but after that the quality of the work will start to suffer.

I could do small stuff that doesn't require my full attention. Like doing little household chores.

Eventually, there comes a time when I have to relax. I don't want to watch the some crappy television program, because that doesn't bring me any further to my goals.

Which relaxation options can I use to re-energize myself, that are still usefull and don't make me any more tired?

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I don't have a comprehensive answer, but if you can find engaging video lectures that are relevant to your field, that might help. – D Coetzee Jul 16 '12 at 1:24
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I recently read that a simple short-term change of the environment you work in actually helps to revive your energy. So now I allow myself a stairs’ up-and-down run when I feel tired or stuck. And, apparently, having a couple of minutes for socializing and playing office games can be productive too! I, actually, took these and some more tips from this blog post. It’s also a reason I now have a ball of whacks on my desk :)

Have a look at it, hope you’ll find it useful too!

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Every minute of the day should not be useful. That is a trap see.

Rest and relaxation are necessary for your health. Working more than 40 hours total in a week is bad for your health and bad for your productivity. Watching tv actually does bring you closer to your goals because it allows you time to rest. Certainly there are other activities as well, but they should be different from your work as far as possible . So take up dressage or surfing or photography or fractal art or painting or woodwork or or reading fiction or anything that might be fun, if tv watching doesn't appeal.

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Exercise. Usually working heavily reduces your time to exercise. There are plenty of recreational exercises that can be done that equally benefit your health and put you in a better mood. Bike riding, swimming, jogging, basketball, racquetball, yoga, meditation, etc.

There are many indirect effects that it will have on your work too. Daily exercise will help you sleep better at night, helping you stay awake and active during the day (and not having to rely on another cup of coffee!)

All the other answers suggest that you dont need to be productive in your relaxation time. While true, there are still many relaxing activities that can also be productive, and I think these are the items in question.

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Sometimes you do just need to switch off and do something else.

The healthier your activities are in your down time, the more productive you will be in your uptime. So, exercise and preparing healthy food will help you switch off, relax and energise you.

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For the downtime / relaxation time that is essential to maintain performance, you actually have to switch off from your core role in order to get the best benefits. So, when you say it "doesn't bring me any further to my goals" there are two possible responses:

  1. By relaxing you are actually improving your capability to perform towards your goals
  2. Assigning a set of non-work goals which can be reached through relaxation activity can help you progress even in the down time.

You could set some downtime targets - working towards your first marathon, for example.

For my non-work time, I play in a local rock band which gives me time to completely switch off from consulting, project management etc., take out any work frustrations in front of a crowd and basically recharge my mental batteries. As an added bonus, I make money from it, so it helps me with longer term saving goals as well.

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