Being busy has become a dominant culture. We are always on the move, always doing something, or always looking like we are doing something. Taking a rest is synonymous with being lazy or idle. Our culture has taught us that taking a well-deserved rest is equivalent to being lazy and so, being busy or seeming to be busy is our default setting.
But, research shows that taking some time off is actually good for your productivity. It is not possible to be at your very best from morning to evening. That is not how your brain works and it is also not how your body functions. Saying that you are busy is meant to show that you are important or the work you are doing is important but this does not always translate into productivity.
Well, it is time to take a break. Research has shown that stress, burn out and stress-related diseases are on the rise and that is not a good thing. Granted, activities such as eating healthy, working out, and even taking leave have been shown to help us increase productivity. But, no one even does this consistently and really, you would not do these activities in the middle of a busy day.
Introducing, taking a rest by doing nothing!
With our busy culture, doing nothing sounds absurd, while we are always being bombarded with all this information of how we should do more. But, there is a case for doing absolutely nothing, as a way of improving your productivity. The Dutch call it Niksen, and it has a lot of value in our productivity.
Why You Should Do Nothing Once in a While
It improves productivity
Technology is both good and bad. With technology always near you, you are likely to be responding to an email or be scrolling your social media pages. What this translates into is no time to actually just unwind. However, taking time to unwind by doing nothing or even just fantasizing really does improve productivity. It helps you to unwind and lets your brain take a rest, which is the equivalent of recharging. If you are constantly busy, you are likely to work even when you are least able to and this leads to declined productivity over time, which eventually shows up in the form of lower quality work. Therefore, take some time off and do nothing if you want to refuel your brain’s energy.
2. It improves creativity
When you are idle, or when you are doing nothing at all, your brain is likely to wander leisurely, in what is commonly known as fantasizing. This essentially means that you are giving your mind a chance to stimulate itself, which leads to lots of creativity. A wandering mind is likely to come up with new and reflective ideas, which will, of course, improve your productivity in the long run. Most creatives will tell you that they are most creative when they are just relaxed and are least likely to be stressing about work. Well, this is something to borrow from the creatives, if you want to boost your productivity.
How to Take A Rest By Doing Nothing
All this is easier said than done. Most people do not like creating time for resting, even if it means just being able to sit quietly for a few minutes. But, with practice, you can learn to unplug and simply do nothing, as a strategy for boosting your creativity. Here are tips to help you along;
Create an idling spot
The first step is to create a quiet corner where you can go to just sit and be at peace. This can be anywhere, even in the office. Ideally, it is a place with no distractions such as calls, laptops, or even people who will want to engage you. While at it, remember to keep all technology away because scrolling down Twitter will not help you achieve your goal. A good spot will help you be alone with your thoughts only, which is exactly what you need to be able to rest.
2. Understand that is it okay not to always be busy
Make peace with idleness. Having grown up in a culture where being idle is frowned upon, it may sound outrageous to actually want to be idle. Well, just like all things, this takes practice so be patient. Learn to be okay with not being busy, just like you have learned to always look or be busy. Even if someone asks you what you are doing, learn to say you are doing nothing and you are not trying to be drawn into doing anything. This does not mean you are lazy, it simply means that you appreciate the time taken to recharge and what this does to boost your productivity.
3. Create time for doing nothing
Since learning to be idle can be a challenge, it is important to be deliberate about it. First, learn how your brain works. This will help you know when your concentration and your productivity start declining. As a result, you will be able to carve out small amounts of time like 10 to 15 minutes in which you simply unplug from all work and activity to simply rest. This is important in also training your mind to focus on work for a while and then take a short break to recharge. If you find this difficult, then you can simply create time for taking a walk during which you unwind and simply let your mind wander as it pleases.
4. Create a culture around being idle
If you find it too hard to simply take a rest, then create a culture around it. Those who smoke will choose to go for a smoke while those who do not smoke will, in many cases, not know what to do. You could create a culture of taking a walk, simply staring outside the window, or even just sitting at a corner where you are alone with your thoughts. This helps you relax, as your brain learns to associate the activity with rest. It also helps you see that being busy all the time is not synonymous with increased productivity.
Being busy is not always a sign that you are important or that you are achieving much. It simply shows that you are not able to manage your time and work well, which could be affecting your output. Taking a rest is healthy for your brain and boosts your productivity, as it gives you time to recharge. Therefore, it is important to embrace idleness as a form of improving productivity, which eventually shows up in your output. If you are struggling with reduced productivity, it is probably a good idea to learn how to unplug by doing nothing.
Have you tried taking some time off work in the course of the day? Share your ideas on what you do or can do to unplug and recharge your brain.