Yesterday I had a very rough time at work. I had a hard time focusing on getting anything done. I tried employing my “habit system” so that I could at least accomplish something on auto-pilot. It didn’t really work. The reason for this collapse of any and all resemblance of productivity was due to one factor: lack of sleep. I didn’t get enough sleep and I was tired the next day. Nothing new here.
However, I noticed that while I was so tired I tended to be really pessimistic about the projects that I was currently working on. I wasn’t excited about the ideas that I was working on. Ideas that the day before seemed genius. It’s understandable that being tired can affect your mood. The key insight for me is that when you’re tired you should avoid making decisions and do creative work.
There’s a substantial body of research in the literature of sleep and cognitive psychology that goes over the impact of sleep on decision-making and the results tend to show that sleep deprivation severely impacts performance and creative thinking. This is pretty intuitive but whenever you’re actually tired and about to make an important decision it can be hard to remember.
The key takeaway in this case is 1) I need to sleep more and 2) I shouldn’t try to do creative/analytical work when I am tired 🙂