We live in a world where there is a relentless focus on improving productivity and efficiency. We want to do more of everything and do it quick. There is a spurt of books on how to improve our productivity. There are numerous blog posts about hacks to improve productivity. Despite all of this, we are living in a world where there is a minuscule percent of people who are able to accomplish much more than the rest of the population. There is a dearth of good leaders – both in business and public life. In this blog post, I am trying to explore what is amiss and what can we do about this.
Why do we want to improve our productivity:
While everyone wants to improve their ability to produce more, most forget the reason why they want to be more productive. The reasons could be different for different people:
- For some, it is about accomplishing more so that they can rise in the corporate ladder.
- For some, it could be about completing their work so that they can find some leisure time to spend with family, friends, or with themselves.
- For some, it could be about a pursuit of constant improvement.
The point is that we need to know what is our individual reason to want to improve our productivity. This way, we are intentional about what we are trying to achieve by working on our productivity.
The one thing a car needs to speed, is good breaks.
I read somewhere that, the very existence of breaks in an automobile is what enables us to drive fast. If there were no breaks, our ability to go fast and still stay alive, would drastically diminish. A very similar thing happens when it comes to productivity. The very presence of leisure time and breaks from work, enable us to continue to stay relevant and productive.
Taking a break from work regularly allows your body and mind to recuperate and refresh. This also allows our sub-conscious mind to work on things that we are struggling with, in the background. This is process of sub-conscious work has led to many a discoveries and breakthrough thinking moments. This is even better if these breaks are fun.
In my opinion, taking a fun break regularly does offer us the following benefits:
Helps us manage our stress:
It is well-known fact that we can be much more productive if we operate under optimal stress – not too much and not too less. Taking regular time off for leisure activities can help us reduce and manage our stress levels such that we are able to maintain the balance and thereby enabling us to be extremely productive.
Helps us become creative:
Fun breaks allow the conscious mind to engage with something while allowing the sub-conscious mind to continue to work in the background on the topics that we are struggling with. This specifically is helpful in creating connections that can help address the topic that we want to address. This is so due to the fact that when we are focused on a particular topic, we are too focused and at that level of focus, it is difficult to find connections. To find these connections we need to take a 50000 ft view instead of the 100 Ft view we take when we are focused on the task.
Helps us remain healthy:
Breaks are important to regulate our emotions. We are all emotional animals and it is important to feel the full range of emotions in order to be healthy and productive. Continuous focus on work alone makes us miss our other emotions. This will either take a toll on our physical or emotional health. So, to remain healthy, we need to take regular breaks. The more fun they are, the better they are.
Improves the ability to focus:
If there is one thing that can have a significant impact on our productivity, it is focus. Taking regular leisure breaks helps us to build our focus muscles. Just like you need to give your body some rest after a rigorous exercise regimen before the next bout of exercise is critical to build our stamina and muscles, frequent leisure breaks allow for our mind to relax before the next bout of focused work. These breaks allow us to train our mind to become ultra focused, which in turn leads to a significant improvement in productivity.
I have found that a small 10 min break every couple of hours of intense work helps me remain creative, engaged, focused and ultra productive at my work. I have used this to be able to maintain this blog, a podcast, a video channel and write a book, all while still having a full-time job, where I excel.
I do need to work on my private life, where as a father, husband and son, I haven’t taken so many fun breaks as I would have liked to. But now that I am intentional about it, I am sure that this will change as well.
Question that you need to answer are the following:
- What is your purpose to improve your productivity?
- What is the frequency of leisure breaks you need? Is that daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual?
- Are you integrating these in your calendar and plan for them? If not, please find sometime and do plan.
This is one topic that is critical and needs all our attention. So, pls stop doing whatever you are doing and answer the above questions. Be intentional about your quest for productivity.