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10 Reasons Why The Most Productive People Make Time For Doing Absolutely Nothing

10 Reasons Why The Most Productive People Make Time For Doing Absolutely Nothing

Being productive can feel exhilarating. It can provide a rush that energizes you, inspires you, motivates you, and has you reach your goals. Productive people are focused on their goals and take charge of their lives.

It is a common misconception that productivity is tantamount to being busy. They are not one and the same. Busyness can happen at times, but it can really mean being over-committed instead. Sometimes, it is unavoidable. Sometimes, life throws us things to do that we did not plan on, nor do we have much of a choice about. The key to balancing these times of increased tasks is to take the time to “do nothing.” This nothing is intentional and fulfilling. It should not be confused with laziness or lack of drive. Doing “nothing” can actually increase your productivity.

Getting things done can take more than hard work, diligence, and knowledge. Sometimes, during “crunch times,” it can feel like the need to push is even stronger. You keep your head down and don’t allow any distractions to seep in. Working harder, is not necessarily the most productive way to accomplish tasks, however. It can lead to stress, burnout, insomnia, and even illness. In the effort to achieve greater success, we can actually lose our awareness and enjoyment of life

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Every now and then, a well-placed “timeout” can be extremely effective. When you are faced with so much to get done in so little time, it can feel overwhelming. It can feel like everything is an equal priority and has to all get done right away. You may go to bed wondering how you’ll ever get it all done. To-do-lists are great ways to jot down all you need to get done in your day, but the need to say “yes” to everyone and everything that comes along can actually hinder progress. Being busy can actually become a default setting. Worst of all, it may take energy away from the things you enjoy.

Some of the most productive people place importance not only on being effective, but also on the value of doing “nothing” so they can be more efficient at doing their many “somethings.”

Check out these 10 reasons why productive people make time for nothing:

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1. Doing nothing gives them perspective.

The big ideas often come when productive people step away from what they are working on. Taking a break and opting for a change of scenery can bring clarity when they return to their lives.

2. Doing nothing gives their bodies time to catch up on rest.

Rest and relaxation are keys to good health. Coincidentally, vital people get more done.

3. It leaves room for something new to come in.

When the most productive people step away from their busy lives, new people and experiences have the room to show up. The daily grind can lead to dissatisfaction and a hopeless feeling like nothing is getting done.

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4. Their creative fires are fueled.

Taking breaks can be the best muse.

5. Their minds quiet…

…and stress is alleviated when the most productive people take a timeout to themselves.

6.  Being prone allows our nervous system to rest.

According to Chloe Park of Mind Body Green.com, without this kind of relaxation, we are only operating at 70% capacity. Stress is actually counter-productive.

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7. Resting the body releases tension, which makes them able to endure longer days.

When they lay down to rest, their spines elongate, letting gravity give their bodies the rest they need to do more.

8. They mediate and find clarity and equanimity, alleviating stress and re-activity.

Oprah Winfrey talks about the value of meditation by saying, “Only from that space can you create your best work and your best life.”

9. They know if they do not take time to relish in their accomplishments…

…their productivity has no real value.

10. They understand the power of saying “no”.

If they say no to some things they can actually give themselves the breathing room to say “yes” to do more of what they want in life.

Featured photo credit: Handsome hipster relaxing on campsite at a music festival via shutterstock.com

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Bridget Baker

Web Presence Sherpa

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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