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How to Raise Your Game by Doing Nothing

A hammock in the sunset

What if I told you that you could become a more effective Database Administrator by doing nothing?

That’s right, in this post I’m going to tell you why doing nothing could be best thing that you have done for your career and performance for some time.

In my post The DBA Ultimate Fitness Workout Plan we looked at how to use professional exercise for developing growth and improvement as a DBA, using physical fitness as our analogy. One of the key elements to the success of a good fitness program is including adequate rest in order to ensure recovery.

If you’re consistently working hard and with intensity, you need to ensure that you are getting adequate rest in order to continue to perform at a high level.

Are you Overtraining?

Conversely not getting enough rest can actually be detrimental to your performance. Consistently overtraining can even lead to a decline in your typical level of performance. To put it another way, if you are regularly pushing yourself to perform at peak levels you may actually be performing worse overall.

Are you working or pushing yourself too hard too often?

Take a Break

Any serious athlete will tell you that you cannot train at peak intensity all of the time. You have to take your foot off the gas and ease up occasionally. This is known as Active Recovery.

Get up from your desk and take a walk away from your cube every now and then. Don’t make a habit of working through lunch. Your performance overall will actually benefit from you having taken a break.

Time to Refuel

An essential ingredient to a successful fitness program is food or rather fuel. Just like a car cannot run forever without stopping to refuel, you have to do the same. You need to make sure that you schedule regular time to stop and refuel or you will inevitably run out of gas. We all know that if the tank hits empty in the middle of a journey we’re in trouble and in the fitness training world this is known as Burnout.

Stop Everything Completely

Every once in a while an athlete will schedule a complete break from training for an extended period of time. Think of this as taking your car in for a service or tune up.

What’s really interesting is that when the athlete returns to training after a layoff, their performance not only improves from where it was prior to taking the break it often actually increases. Taking a complete break from intense activity, results in an increase to performance when you return to it.

To put another way, doing nothing enabled the athlete to raise their level of performance.

Start Doing Nothing Today

I hope that I have shown you the importance of doing nothing often and how you can use this time to actually raise your overall performance. Speaking of which, it’s probably time for a break :-) so until next time then.

Credits: Photo by IronRodArt used under Creative Commons Attribution.

John Sansom - SQL Server DBA in the UK

John Sansom (Blog | Twitter) is a Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) of SQL Server and publisher of the free SQL community ebook DBA JumpStart, an inspiring collection of advice for Data Professionals, written by 20 SQL Server experts. Awarded the Microsoft Community Contributor(MCC) award, John is a prolific blogger and can be found regularly writing about SQL Server and Professional Development over at www.johnsansom.com.


Posted by Jason Brimhall on 8 March 2011

Sound advice.

Posted by John Sansom on 10 March 2011

Thanks Jason! I could probably do with taking a little bit of my own advice this week :-)

Funny how giving advice is so much simpler than taking your own, well at least I think so....

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