The illusive 4-hour work week looks tempting, but how is it possible? How can a person achieve grandiose things without producing? You work hard to achieve inbox zero, but it requires just that – work. How can you be a success without grinding away for hours every day?
What Should Productivity Really Look Like?
We’re taught from an early age that the key to a successful life is hustle. In order to make something of ourselves, we have to work our fingers to the bone, blister up our feet, and put in the many, many hours it takes to finally stand out. There’s some truth to the notion that hard work pays off. But, there’s just as much truth to the idea that sometimes taking a break from it all is more productive than sitting at your desk, whittling away at your to-do list.
Sounds a little far fetched, doesn’t it? It might not be.
Let’s take a closer look at why the key to productivity might just be to schedule in blank space to your day.
The Problem With “Wasting” Time
Before we dive into why doing nothing is so healthy, let’s take a closer look at the reality of “doing nothing.”
Most of us never give ourselves permission to truly unwind. A restful break is usually clouded by thoughts of what more needs doing. We don’t sleep in because we have a lengthy to do list to tackle. We don’t go for as long of a walk because the work waiting for us back at our desk weighs heavy on our mind. Any time spent away from work is guilt-ridden. We beat ourselves up for taking time away.
But what happens when we return to our desk? Do we tackle the to do list head on? Not always. Many times, professionals kick the tires between tasks by scanning social media or browsing websites, kidding ourselves that we’re doing one of two things – (1) being productive or (2) giving ourselves a mental rest.
The truth is, it’s impossible to truly unwind if we’re trying to keep our toe in the productivity pool. That’s because we never truly break out of the mental commitment to be available all the time or to be working all of the time, so we’re always at least a little bit present in our job.
There’s a problem with this. Namely, this multitasking isn’t yielding results. It’s breaking us down and causing us to lose out on what life has to offer. So what can we do?
Schedule in Time to do Nothing
Some of the most successful and most productive people, including Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens, have publicly lauded relaxed work schedules of only about five hours a day or less. What if you could get the same amount of work done without spending all of your time in the office?
The truth of the matter is that work will expand to fill the space we allow it to. If you’re giving yourself 12-hour workdays, you’ll find enough that you can do at your desk to fill that space. Will it all be productive? Not always. Will you be able to get double as much accomplished than if you only worked a 6-hour workday? Not necessarily.
The Key to Productivity is to Work Less
Pay attention to how many hours you’re scheduling yourself. Then, pay attention to how much work you truly get done in that time frame. You might be surprised by how much you’re able to accomplish when you limit your time behind the desk, free yourself of guilt from being away from the office, and start living a more fulfilling life.
Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007 and again in 2010, 2013 and 2014.