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RUTLEDGE: The manual for productivity is written on the backs of your eyelids


Saturday, August 12, 2017

My brother-in-law Dwain and I were discussing the importance of workday naps for improving individual productivity. Dwain is an insurance adjuster and allowed that his workday naps are made easier by a bed in his office.

"Yes!" I exclaimed. "A bed in every office! That is what America needs!"

Dwain further explained that his office is at home, in an upstairs bedroom previously occupied by a daughter. It doesn't matter. My initial response stands firm.

It’s said that children and old people need naps, which implies that the rest of us do not. You can bet your next paycheck there were dark circles under the eyes of the person who came up with that.

Naps are good for everyone. Workplaces of other cultures have long recognized and accommodated this simple fact of life, but in America we are largely on our own when it comes to napping.

In a former place of employment, I once heard what sounded like someone drilling holes in the brick outside the building. When I questioned aloud why this work was being done during business hours, someone stepped over and quietly pointed out a coworker slumped over her keyboard across the room.

Get busted snoring at your workstation in America and you will never live it down. It might even go on your permanent record, which makes sense if you’re helping airplanes land or waving the checkered flag at the Daytona 500. For most workers, however, a short reprieve from total consciousness can clear the brain and recharge tired muscles.

Work hours may be strictly work hours, but dinner breaks are another matter entirely. I have always found a place to nap when the dinner whistle blows. Eating can be nutritious and quick at the same time. What’s left of my dinner break is spent reading the backs of my eyelids.

My first job was at a grocery store. On Saturdays, they gave us an hour for lunch. I would spend mine in the stockroom atop the paper towel boxes, which are filled with wonderful little, round pillows.

When I worked at a hospital during college, quiet time in an empty room was always just down the next long hallway.

My first newspaper job was mostly in bureaus for the Johnson City Press. Furnished bureaus. The office in Elizabethton had a glorious little green sofa in the front room. To this day, when I ride past that building I consider stopping in for a visit just so I can curl up on that little green sofa one more time.

During my earliest years at The Daily Reflector, I would stretch right out on the floor of the newsroom and nap. No one ever saw because it was during the wee hours after everyone else was gone and I was still there finishing a column.

After one of those marathon column nights, my wife read the result on Saturday and asked, “This is what took you until 3:30 in the morning to come up with?”

“Column writing and newsroom floors are hard,” I explained, and almost added, “And so are your critiques,” but I thought better of it.

Maybe she needed a nap.

Contact Mark Rutledge at mrutledge@reflector.com or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.