I’m not a LinkedIn Influencer (yet!!) so nobody really asked me to write this, but that’s not going to stop me from doing it. After all, if I waited around for people to ask me to do stuff, I probably wouldn’t have a business, and I definitely would never have gone to Prom. Besides, writing this article is allowing me to feel productive when in fact I’m accomplishing exactly nothing that I actually need to get done today.
Which is sort of the point. We spend an enormous amount of time each day acting productive – sitting at our desks, making phone calls, staring at our computers, writing schedules, crafting proposals – when in fact a good amount of that time is spent inefficiently. Our phone calls last longer than they strictly have to; our emails go into more detail than is absolutely necessary; and sometimes we stare at our computers for a few minutes before we realize that we’re not actually looking at anything on the screen. It’s not that we’re being lazy or intentionally avoiding work (although sometimes we are) – it’s that our brains simply can’t be on all the time.
I’ve read that the best Olympic athletes rarely practice more than four hours a day, because the body simply can’t maintain top-tier physical performance for longer. Our minds function in very much the same way. There comes a point for all of us when our brains simply refuse to continue. I’m certain you’ve hit a point before when try as you might, no more brilliance is going to come right now.
So I give myself plenty of breaks. Mine is a creative job (we create entertaining training programs on a wide variety of subjects for a wide variety of clients), and it is simply impossible to be creative all the time. Most jobs, when you really think about it, are creative, if for no other reason than because the jobs that aren’t creative are probably being handled by a computer. Trying to make sense of the stock market, managing conflicts between coworkers, devising or revising a marketing strategy, attempting to convince someone to invest in your company – all of these are creative pursuits, and eventually your ability to innovate will hit a wall. Fortunately for all of us, that wall is easy to climb over as long as you give yourself a little breathing room to step back, collect yourself, and recover your creative strength.
So give yourself a break. Give yourself a dozen breaks every day. I guarantee that once you find your rhythm, you’ll be more productive in the long run by letting yourself relax occasionally than by forcing yourself to stare at your computer when the will to produce is simply not there.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go do something useful. Or walk around, stretch my legs, and wait for inspiration to come – I haven’t decided yet.