Increase Your Productivity: Take Time Off
I always used to worry that taking breaks meant I was weak, less productive, and less mature. Yet, as an ex-smoker, I remember that I had quite a few eureka moments while taking time out for a cigarette. I also remember feeling less stressed because I spent more time outside in the sun, and I had more conversations with different work colleges. I wish I were more like the Borg from Star Trek where I ruthlessly worked on a task until it was done, but my body and mind will not let me. I would love to be more like the Borg, but now I think about it, even they needed to regenerate, so maybe I should too.
It is not enough to be busy… The question is: what are we busy about?
Taking time off doesn’t sound like something a productive person does, but knowing when to take breaks and when to have time off is important. This article considers two sides of several issues and helps you understand how you may use breaks at a tool to optimize your own productivity. It sounds counter-intuitive to think that taking breaks makes a person more productive. After all, people who take breaks too often may be teaching themselves the habit of being lazy. Yet, without a true understanding of when you should stop and when you should rest, you run a large risk of damaging your productivity. Consider the issues in this article before you begin your journey towards becoming a more productive person.
Meditation – The Placebo Effect Or Big Benefits?
One has to cover meditation in an article such as this one because there are so many online gurus, websites and articles that claim meditation is the key to success. Replace the first “T” in meditation with a “C” and they may have a point (Medication).
Sitting in a room and listening to yourself breathing while you try to center yourself seems like a big waste of time, and one has to accept the argument that for many people it “IS” a waste of time. Nevertheless, there are some people who may benefit from meditation.
There is a good chance that some people benefit from meditation because of the placebo effect. Some people read things about how “Great people in history meditated” and feel a new surge of motivation when they mediate.
There is also a good chance that some people feel a genuine benefit because they are too busy tripping over their own feet while they try to run. There are some people who drive themselves into a frenzy as they try to get more and more done in a short space of time. Sessions of meditation may help such a person prioritize. Such people may learn to prioritize a little better so that they are not running themselves into the ground all the time.
Cigarette Breaks – Time Wasting Or Productivity Optimization?
This article is not going to tout benefits of smoking because we do not fancy receiving 600 negative comments from the “Society For Wrapping People In Cotton Wool.” Yet, the fact is that many of the most productive people in our time and in history were smokers.
There are several reasons why smokers are more productive. One of them is because smokers are forced by their own habit to take several quiet-and-peaceful breaks per day. They have time to reflect and ponder, to think and generate ideas. They also have the time to look at what they are doing and think of better and faster ways.
There is also a certain level of stress relief that only smoking can provide. And that is one of the most common reasons people turn to cigarettes and fail to break the habit as it has become a coping mechanism. The temporary stress release gives smokers a little clarity, which helps improve focus and concentration.
the rise of Smartphone popularity has led to more and more smokers becoming less and less productive because all smokers do is play on their phones
Should you start smoking to improve your productivity? No, because smoking doesn’t guarantee productivity any more than a college degree guarantees intelligence. There are some who use smoke breaks to think, to generate ideas, to reflect and to de-stress, and these are often the most productive members in the workplace. Then, there are those who use smoke breaks as a way of getting out of work, as a way of trying to date work members, and as an excuse to play on their phones. Oddly enough, the rise of Smartphone popularity has led to more and more smokers becoming less and less productive because all smokers do is play on their phones.
Bill Gate’s Two Week Cabin Idea – Inspirational Thinking Or Catching Up On TV Shows?
Ever been in bed with somebody who is beautiful/handsome who has a stunning body? Two weeks passes by as quickly as two minutes. You burn through time like fire through a drought-ridden brush. Some wouldn’t call this sort of thing a waste of time, but it is certainly easy to waste time if you are having fun or relaxing.
Does Bill Gate’s idea of two weeks of thinking really work? If you had a cabin in the woods where you could escape the world for two weeks every year, would you become a more productive person as a result? Maybe you would, but why? There is a good chance that taking a break will help you recharge, but are you simply wasting time when you could be recharging more efficiently?
Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard
It is a troubling question and probably one if the most difficult on this article. If we all tried Bill Gates “Two Week” idea, we would all probably return more recharged and less stressed, but would we gain more than just a relaxing time? Would we come back more inspired? Come up with better ideas? See the future more clearly? Or, would we come back with the same benefits as if we had spent two hours in bed with somebody gorgeous?
It is a tricky question and is the only question in this article that is not answered because maybe there is no answer. Maybe Bill Gate’s idea works for people like Bill Gates, or maybe it turns everybody into a productive visionary. Who knows?
Pressure And Taking A Break – Crushed Rock Or Diamonds?
One of Donald Trump’s most brilliant pieces of advice is on handling pressure. So brilliant was it, that it was repeated in the movie “Devils Advocate” by Al Pacino. The gist is that there are two types of people. When you apply pressure, some people crumble while some people over-perform.
How well you are able to handle pressure is seemingly a measure of how successful you will be in the business world. Trump was right about this, but there is a way that this may apply to everybody. Put simply, people who are terrible at handling pressure need only take more breaks.
For example, you have Billy and Barry. Billy is great at handling pressure, and when the pressure is on he will over-perform until the task is done. Barry is bad at handling pressure, and when the pressure is on he will over-perform shortly before crumbling. All is not lost for Barry, he simply needs to know himself well enough to recognize when he is going to crumble. At which point, Barry takes a break, he re-centers himself, and he gets back to work. Maybe the Billys of the world will always beat the Barrys, but the Barrys of the world can still compete in the race just so long as the Barrys catch themselves before they crumble.
Exhaustion And Breaks – Not Knowing Yourself Or Recharging Yourself?
A truly productive person should be able to know when he or she is reaching an exhausted state and then take a break in order to recharge. Sadly, there is a misalignment going on with many people. Some people quit before they are even tired, and others keep going despite the fact their tiredness is hurting them.
The easiest examples revolve around college and university students. There are some students who hit their dorm room, read a few passages, write a few paragraphs, and then proclaim they are tired so they run off and play their games console for six hours before bed. Then, there are college students who get three hours of sleep per night and then think they are doing well because they are reading and writing for seven hours every night. The fact that their written work is sub-par, and the fact they are having a hard time retaining any information is irrelevant to such people.
Take a break when you are tired and not before. Take a break before you reach an exhausted and unproductive state. It all sounds like simple and logical advice, but it is very difficult advice to follow. Tiredness is very insidious. We all know what it feels like when we are physically exhausted from too much exercise, and we all know what it feels like when it is hard to keep our eyes open. However, there is a massive amount of middle ground where you don’t know how you feel. You go to bed and you cannot sleep, or you go to bed and sleep right away. There is no “Low Battery” indicator on our bodies, and it is often very difficult to understand just how tired you are. Ergo, it is usually almost impossible for anybody outside of the professional sports category to know when he or she is near exhaustion.
That is why productive people have a set sleep schedule. Stop believing rumors that Albert Einstein only slept 4 hours per day because it is not true (his wife Mileva Marić said he slept like a dog besides a coal fire). Forget the likes of Kanye West and P-Diddy when they say they do not sleep at night because it is not true. Productive people have a set sleep schedule, and productive people get enough sleep every day for one simple reason: productive people are aware that they do not know their own body.
A productive person gets enough sleep because he or she is aware that he or she is a poor judge of his or her tiredness. Without a battery power indicator on human bodies, we cannot truly know how close we are to exhaustion, so play it safe and vow to get enough sleep each night. That way, you do not “Have” to know how close you are to exhaustion because you will never be that tired.
Having Fun At Work And Links To Avoiding Burnout – Asleep On Your Feet Or Enjoying The Ride?
So many successful people have said you should enjoy your work. So many have said it that it must be true. Even the most successful people in the world, such as Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Donald Trump say that enjoying your work is the key to success. Yet, even people who enjoy their work need to take a break if they wish to remain productive.
Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed
Remember when you were a kid and it started to snow? You played out all day and by the end of the day your feet were wet, your face was red, you had sore lips, glassy eyes, and your fingertips were wrinkled? You overdid it because you were enjoying yourself and the same thing can happen at work.
If anything, you need to take a break to stop falling asleep on your feet. Loving your job is one thing, but too much of a good thing is often bad. Do too much, and your job will soon start to drag you down to the point where it is not fun anymore.
Emotionally Drained And Re-Balancing Your Feelings – Emotional Mistakes Or Emotional Power?
Emotions are a great tool in both business and in your personal life. The problem is that they have a lot of power, and power can be used for good and bad. A person who misuses emotion will become angry with no good cause, and will make silly mistakes and dumb decisions because his or her logic is misplaced.
On the other hand, emotions are also great for getting things done, for powering through, and for charging yourself and the people around you. All of the emotions, good or bad, may be used to increase your productivity. Even sadness at the passing of somebody close has led to people being inspired to create cancer treatments, or even become a better actor (e.g. Liam Neeson).
A person who is overly tired and/or overly emotionally drained will have less control over his or her emotions, and will therefore be more likely to misplace, misuse and abuse emotions. The sad part is that emotionally drained people tend to be more unbalanced, which leads to logic-free decisions. Taking a little time to re-balance your feelings and emotions will help you use emotions correctly in business and at home.
William Grigsby is an HR expert at assignmentmasters. His passion is to show that each person is unique and can independently achieve success by applying efforts every day. William was writing in this space for 2 successful years. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @willgrgsb
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