_Many business men know they are going at a pace that kills, and at the same time they feel that they are accomplishing too little. For such, the pertinent question is, How may I reduce the expenditure of energy without reducing the efficiency of my labor_?
The ability to relax at will and to remain in an efficient condition, but free from nervousness, is a thing which may be acquired more or less completely by all persons. It is accomplished by a voluntary control of the muscles of the arms, legs, and face, by breathing slowly and deeply, and by placing the body in a condition of general relaxation.
This antecedent condition of relaxation brings all the forces of the mind and body more completely under control and makes it possible to marshal them more effectively. It also gives one a feeling of control and assurance, which minimizes the possibility of confusion and embarrassment in the presence of an important task. The possibility of developing the power of relaxation by means of special training is being taken advantage of in teaching acts of skill, in all forms of mental therapeutics, and in numerous other instances where overtension hinders the acquisition or accomplishment of a useful act. By assuming the attitude of assurance and composure, the actual condition is produced in a manner most astonishing to those who have never attempted it. No man can do his best when he is hurried and fearful, when he is expending energy in a manner as useless as a tug blowing off steam. That relief is within his own power seems to him impossible. He is not aware of his power of will to change from his state of anxiety to one of composure.
That the gospel of relaxation is more important to the chief executive than to the day laborer is quite apparent. Even in the case of the day laborer the crack of the lash and the curse of the driver may have been capable of securing a display of activity among the laborers, but such means are not comparable in efficiency to the more modern methods. Laborers are now given more hours of rest, are not kept fearful and anxious, but are given short hours of labor and long hours of rest. They are judged by the actual results of their labor rather than by their apparent activity.
_When accomplishing intellectual work of any sort, it is found that worry exhausts more than labor_.
Anxiety as to the results is detrimental to efficiency. The intellectual worker should periodically make it a point to sit in his chair with the muscles of his legs relaxed, to breathe deeply, and to assume an attitude of composure. Such an attitude must not, of course, detract from attention to the work at hand, but should rather increase it. Upon leaving
his office, the brain worker should cultivate the habit of forgetting all about his business, except in so far as he believes that some particular point needs special attention out of office hours. The habit of brooding over business is detrimental to efficiency and is also suicidal to the individual.
It is, of course, apparent to all that relaxation may mean permanent indifference, and such a condition is infinitely worse than too great a tension. An employer who is never keyed up to his work, and an employee who goes about his work in an indifferent manner, are not regarded in the present discussion.
A complete relaxation of the body often gives freedom to the intellect. The inventor is often able, when lying in bed, to devise his apparatus with a perfection impossible when he attempts to study it out in the shop. The forgotten name will not come till we cease straining for it. Very many of the world's famous poems have been conceived while the poet was lying in an easy and relaxed condition. This fact is so well recognized by some
authors that they voluntarily go to bed in the daytime and get perfectly relaxed in order that their minds may do the most perfect work. Much constructive thinking is done in the quiet of the sanctuary, when the monotony of the liturgy or the voice of the speaker has soothed the quiet nerves, and secured a composed condition of mind.