I mentioned earlier this week that I was going to start reading and learning how to use the jQuery library.  Well, I haven’t had a chance to look at it since I mentioned it.  Instead I’ve been fairly busy with some ‘priority projects’ for my part-time translation job.  Albeit I’m learning lots of new vocabulary, so it’s good for my intellect in that aspect.  Of which that brings me to today’s question; just how much learning at one time is too much? 
How does a person truly know what their limits are, when it comes to learning?  Colleges assume that only a certain amount of courses is plausible, if the student wishes to receive good marks.  The assumptions of just how much a person is able to work during a day without going wonky have changed over time, but there seems to have always been some kind of expectation.  It seems to depend, partially, on the mental and physical strain of the job they are doing.  

But like all things the more practiced you are at a particular thing the easier it is to do.  Therefore, the more physically practiced you are the more you can work that job without becoming exhausted.  That would then, subsequently, also apply to mental strain.  The more you strain yourself mentally at particular tasks you soon, after much experience, learn it is less taxing.  

Thus people learn and move up the career ladder in whatever field they choose after a period of time.  But how do you know what that limit is?  How do you know when you’re pushing yourself to your own personal limit?  Is it the stress building up in your shoulders?  Beyond the need for sleep or food, when do you come to that wall where you can’t go any further?  Especially if that wall is always expanding the more comfortable you get with your current work?

I would like to think that I’m pushing myself as hard as I can, but I don’t think I am.  I am getting work done, and learning new things all the time.  Still, I think there is a trick to it.  Many people push themselves so much because they are, I think, looking for that wall.  They are trying to find their limit, but they don’t realize they’ve passed it until they crash.  What seems to happen for me is that I start to feel a pressure, either mentally or physically, and will often flirt right beside the wall for a length of time.  Then I crash and spend an extra day recovering.  

With translation what I’ve found works, is that if I need to work longer hours I make sure to take substantial break between my work to keep my wits sharp.  I work two hours, and then take at least an hour break.  My work is much more spread throughout the day, but my translation stays more accurate for a longer period of time.  I have to do less re-reading or double-checking of my work.  I also keep my stress levels down.  I know that for many people this kind of work habit is not a possibility.  But, in all honesty, who doesn’t still accomplish a slight similar process even in the work place?  Instead of taking an hour like myself, one fills it with chatter with co-workers or meetings, coffee breaks and trips to the restroom.  Everyone does it until you reach that level of flexibility where you can choose to do a more obvious hour break and back again for a couple more.

But have I actually reached the wall?  Have I learned what my limits are?  I think each day has it’s own set of limits, based on the amount of sleep, quality of food intake, and general emotional stress levels you are currently experiencing.  Learning that each day does not mean 10 hours of exemplary work, but it may mean one day you spend 12 hours and the next 4.  Learning to allow for alterations in exemplary work within yourself is the most effective way to learn where your wall is.  It’s not pushing yourself to meet the 10 hours each day, because then, more often than not, you crash.  Crashing causes damage and recovery time.  Prevent crashing and you’ll push yourself harder and cover more distance than you would have thought possible.