business strategy | November 26, 2012

Ben Rattray's Better Business Tip: It's Ok To Take A Break, Sometimes founder and social change speaker Ben Rattray has a lot on his plate. On top of running the world's fastest-growing website for social action, he also presents numerous keynote speeches and appears on a plethora of media outlets discussing the intersection of technology and social change. With all that to do, and so few hours in the day, Rattray has undoubtedly had his fair share of sleepless nights. As he tells Fast Company, being busy is great. However, being so busy that you forgo a good night's sleep actually detracts from your productivity—rather than adds to it. Spreading yourself too thin, he explains, affects your judgment and clarity of thought, which are two important components to success.

With the advent of email, smartphones and the Internet, it is far too easy to feel pressured to constantly be "on call" and get caught up working around-the-clock. While it is true that these new technologies make it easy to fall behind other companies if you don't stay up-to-date (as Amber MacArthur explains), Rattray argues that you need to have some downtime in order for your brain to recharge so you are capable of doing your very best work. Working hard is fine, but there comes a time when even he says that he has to stop looking at emails so he can give his body and his mind a break. More often than not, trying to push through that "one last task" when you are exhausted will be more detrimental than helpful. Don't listen to the guys in Silicon Valley who say they can survive on only 5 hours sleep, he warns. Instead, realize when your body is telling you it needs a rest and respond to that email after you've had time to refresh. Your response, he says, will probably be better in the morning, anyway.

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