Arianna Said to Take a Nap: Lessons on Productivity at The Huffington Post

 This past week, I had the chance to meet Arianna Huffington for a few moments at #Inbound13 where she spoke to us about effective leadership.

My goal is to share a few of her key points with you today.

As a global leader, Arianna Huffington has the unique ability to influence real movers and shakers – people like you who are leading the next generation of leaders. Her words and advice are like the books we listened to as children. They act as a guide.

Now, to give you a perspective of how hard Arianna Huffington works, she once worked so hard that she eventually fell over from exhaustion and cracked her jaw on her desk – leading to an array of stitches and recovery time. Ouch!

I’d rather not have that happen to you, especially because it’s far too easy to be overworked and eventually burned out in the education system.

Here are three principles to apply to your school and be the best leader you can be, even if you disagree with Ms. Huffington’s politics.

2 Not-So-Usual Leadership Traits

1. Take a nap.

At the Huffington Post, they have two nap rooms (soon to be three) where employees go when quality work turns to mush and they need an uplift. Thirty minutes of napping – eyes shut and zonked – can create more hours of highly productive quality work.

When the Huffington Post first opened its doors, the nap room stayed vacant throughout the workday. Cultural norms make it quite clear that you should work harder and longer. Eventually, after Ms. Huffington persuaded some employees to take a nap, the cultural perception of work,work,work = burnout flew away and employees engaged in naps. Mental downtime led to coming back and producing better work in a refreshed state of mind.

It’s hard to take a nap as a leader in school. The industrial bell schedule makes this extremely difficult. “Sleeping on the job? Are you kidding me? Your Jiminy Cricket probably says.

“Are you kidding me?” is what your board would most likely say. Perhaps, however, Arianna’s permission will give you enough reason to persuade your board.

Of course, this may be unrealistic if your school runs on an industrial schedule, say 7AM -2PM every Monday through Friday. So, even though your workday may be outside those hours, best not to take a nap during school hours. Instead, tell your secretary that you are resting for 30 minutes after school hours, so that you can return a better leader at the 4pm game you promised to show up at.

2. No technology in the bedroom

It’s far too easy to work 24/7 now. Even though your school may be run from 7AM – 2PM, your work day can run all the time if you let it.

Ms. Huffington has one simple principle. Even though she runs a global media agency that depends on digital technology, she does not allow any modern technology in her bedroom. No television, no cell phone (even to recharge), no digital book reader, no nothing that requires a battery.

@ariannahuff stays unconnected during rest time, because rest time is for rest. Rest is priority. The cell phone can wait till after breakfast.(Tweet this!)

The best leaders recognize quality over quantity. Sounds easy, yet in a culture that favors more, more, more, it’s not easy to lead your team to rest.