We live in a society that is averse to doing nothing. We, especially us women, are constantly on the go. Be it family or work responsibilities, there is no end in sight for the things that we try to accomplish on a daily basis. If you are anything like me, while you would welcome, no, RELISH, the opportunity to stop and put your feet up, it’s as rare an occasion as seeing George Clooney walk into your living room. One can dream, but let’s be realistic, right?
Now, imagine if I told you, that you would actually get MORE done, be more productive if you stopped and put your feet up. That’s right. I am going to make the case to do nothing, on a regular basis.
Think back over the course of your past couple days. Think of how you felt in the morning vs around lunchtime vs dinner vs just before you crashed into bed. My guess is your day might go something like this: You started the morning strong, got out of bed, got dressed, breakfast and you were on your way. You were full of energy, ready to tackle whatever came your way. Perhaps you were operating at 80%. You with me so far?
So then the day passes along, time is going by and now it’s lunch. You had a list of things to work on and maybe you made headway on a couple projects. You resolve to focus and get one particular thing taken care of before the day is over. You are now operating at around 70%, definitely not the energy levels from this morning, but you are chugging along (as you always do.)
As the afternoon passes along, you find yourself dragging, especially the closer the day approaches to 3pm which is a bewitching hour for most people. At 3pm our sugar levels are low, we are in a post-lunch coma and the end of the work day is in sight. You have been at it since 5, 6 or 7am. Understandably so, now you are operating closer to 50% of your productivity. Finally, you get to a place where you can wrap things up at work and head home.
Maybe home means a respite from the day. Or perhaps you walk into your second job of being a mom or partner. Either way you are probably close to running on empty. Forget working out or hitting the gym. Dinner needs to be put on the table and then soon enough, you crash into bed. Only to do it all again. And again. You just can’t seem to get off the hamster wheel.
The woman, whose schedule I just walked you, may resemble you or bring to mind someone you know. Either way, this woman who began her day with her energy levels decently high, slowly and surely crashed down to a much lower level of energy as the day wore on. She probably ate her lunch standing up or on the go. And I wonder how much she crossed off her to-do list. She may have worked on some projects, but how many did she see through to completion?
Granted I recognize that multi-tasking is a whole other obstacle to how productive you are, but for now, let’s get back to this idea of doing nothing in order to be more productive.
Imagine if this same woman had stopped and taken 15 min breaks in between activities, or at the top of the hour or every 90 minutess. Better yet, imagine if she scheduled those breaks directly into her calendar. So now after working on a project, her brain and body know they are getting a break. This is an opportunity to stretch, go to the bathroom, check email, do whatever you may be doing to distract yourself when you are supposed to be working.
Let me say that again. Take a break and use that break time to do whatever it is you may be doing to distract yourself from working. Perhaps you are checking email, looking at Facebook, Twitter, doing laundry. Oh yeah, you know exactly what I am talking about.
By taking regular breaks, not only will your time spent working be more productive BUT you will also stop the downward slide of your energy levels. No more diminishing rate of returns. A 15 minute break has been shown to keep energy levels high throughout the day. So while you may not be working as much, you will actually be getting more work done.
So what’s the next step on your to-do list? Nothing. Exactly.
About Author: Johanna Voss is a health coach who inspires overwhelmed and overworked female small business owners to Eat well. Be happy. Love life. You can learn more about her and download her 12 Tips for Better Time Management at www.johannavoss.com