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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
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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.

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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 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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