My senior year of college there was a percussion major living in my dorm. His hero was the drummer used by Sting for years, Vinnie Colaiuta. I remember this guy telling me about Vinnie’s amazing sense for rhythm, which extended so far beyond the typical patterns you hear in pop songs. A rhythm that sometimes took an entire stanza to reveal itself through a complex series of beats and rests.
Percussion, you see, isn’t just about the beats; it’s about the pauses, too. In fact, one could argue that without the moments when the drummer isn’t hitting anything, it wouldn’t be rhythm at all. Rhythm only works as a combination of beats and rests. And the same is true with life.
You might think you will get more accomplished if you work straight through for eight or ten hours, but you’re wrong. Breaking that day into smaller chunks allows you to rest in between. Maybe just for a moment, or maybe for five or ten minutes; it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you rest.
Build rhythm into your work by setting aside regular moments to do nothing. It might not sound efficient, but it just might be the best change you make this week.