Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How Fatigue Hits Our Bank Accounts

When we get tired, we're more likely to lose money, underperform and squander resources. That's an economic fact and I have proof from the worlds of sports and industry. There are concrete benefits for those who balance personal and professional accounts with plenty of rest.

Consider these real-life examples:

Basketball team: My son's basketball team recently played a squad that included players who were twice as tall as most of the players on my son's team. What's more, the opposing team had three times as many players.

The Surprise: The small boys rocked! My son's team totally dominated the opposing team during the first half of the game. The small boys moved the ball well, made excellent shots and played great defense. (My son had several awesome steals.)

The Downfall: In the last quarter of the game, the small boys fell behind. The problem: The opposing team included a starting line-up and two squads of substitutes. The opposition was constantly sending in fresh squads of rested players. But our team only included five starters and a single substitute.

The Role of Fatigue: Without a squad of subs, our boys had to play without much rest. And as they tired, their ability to make shots, play defense and move the ball deteriorated. When the game clock stopped, our team lost and fatigue was the deciding factor.

Business Example:

In the book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie emphasizes the importance of rest and the economic benefits of avoiding fatigue.

The Scenario: An engineer from Bethlehem Steel Company calculated that individual workers should be able to load 47 tons of steel a day. But each man was only able to load 12 1/2 tons during the work day.

The Experiment: Based on the theory that rest was the culprit, the engineer created a test-schedule for one worker. With plenty of rest breaks, this worker only labored for 26 minutes each hour, with 34 minutes of rest.

The Results: The test-worker was able to carry 47 tons of steel, versus only 12 1/2 tons per man for rest of the workforce. That's a four-to-one improvement.

"The original John D. Rockefeller made two extraordinary records. He accumulated the greatest fortune the world had seen up to that time and he also lived to be ninety-eight. How did he do it," Carnegie asks.

The answer: Rockefeller took a 30-minute nap during every work day. Other famous work-day nappers and resters included:

  • Eleanor Roosevelt

  • Winston Churchill

  • Connie Mack

  • Henry Ford

  • Thomas Edison


Sharon Harvey Rosenberg is the author of The Frugal Duchess of South Beach: How to Live Well and Save Money... Anywhere!, which will be published in June of 2008 by DPL Press.

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