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Imagine a soft, flexible rubber band. The band can be stretched to maximum capacity and will immediately contract into its original shape. Over time, however, the more we stretch it, the quicker it loses its elasticity and flexibility. Just when we need it to hold one more thing together, it snaps. All we’re left with is a mushy piece of rubber that was pushed to the limit one too many times.

As young professionals, many of us get involved in an overload of opportunities. We like to experiment and find out what truly makes us happy. However, the more we stretch and force our brains, the less flexible and creative we can become.

It’s easy for us to start feeling like the rubber band.

Our brains don’t actually turn into mushy pieces of rubber when they’re pushed to the limit (sure feels like it though, right?). But, does giving 10 percent here and 25 percent there ever actually add up to 100 percent effort? This can be a great way for us to learn how to multi-task, but it might not be the most beneficial thing we can do for ourselves as young professionals.

“The importance of restoration is rooted in our physiology. Human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously. Rather, we’re meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy.” From Relax! You’ll be more productive, a great story from last Saturday’s New York Times.

Greg McKeown, global leader at the World Economic Forum and regular LinkedIn blogger, believes that “at any one time, there is only one piece of real estate we can ‘own’ in another person’s mind. People can’t think of us as a project manager, professor, attorney, insurance agent, editor and entrepreneur all at exactly the same time. They may all be true about us, but people can only think of us as one thing first. At any one time there is only one phrase that can follow our name.”

In fact, McKeown believes that this practice is The #1 Career Mistake Capable People Make. When we don’t say “no” or take time for ourselves, we experience burn out and ultimately reduce our effectiveness. Owning the “one phrase that can follow our name” can be one of the most useful things to invest in as a young professional.

Your time is valuable. Are you using it wisely? It’s important to be able to do many things at once. And, determining a career path is often done only through experience. Moving forward, remember the Disciplined Pursuit of Less and don’t forget to take time for yourself.

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