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Do Nothing to be More Productive

Part Three: Time to Reflect and Relax

written by Ray Williams August 22, 2019
Do Nothing to be More Productive

Do nothing to be more productive? It sounds counterproductive, but it’s not. Doing less can actually lead to more creativity and getting more done over time. We do not need to accept business as the norm. Instead, you need to slow down, take a break, and then become more productive.

How Doing Nothing Can Actually be Productive

Stephanie Brown, author of Speed: Facing Our Addiction To Fast and Faster – And Overcoming Our Fear of Slowing Down, argues that we are addicted to busyness and accept it as a norm: “There’s this widespread belief that thinking and feeling will only slow you down and get in your way, but it’s the opposite.” She argues, and most psychotherapists would contend, that suppressing negative feelings only gives them more power, leading to intrusive thoughts, which can prompt people to be even busier to avoid them.

Manfred Ket De Vries, INSEAD Distinguished Professor of Leadership Development and Organizational Change, writing in INSEAD Knowledge argues, “In today’s networked society we are at risk of becoming victims of interaction overload. Introspection and reflection have become lost arts as the temptation to ‘just finish this’ or ‘find out that’ is often too great to risk.” De Vries argues that working harder is not working smarter and in fact, setting aside regular periods of “doing nothing” may be “the best thing we can do to induce states of mind that nurture our imagination and improve our mental health.”

De Vries contends that “doing nothing” has become unacceptable. People associate it with irresponsibility and wasting valuable time. It doesn’t provide the stimulation that busyness and distraction-inducing behaviors like constantly checking emails, Facebook, and texting do. The biggest danger, he says, is not so much that we lose connection with each other but with ourselves.

In our cyber age, where we have an almost limitless selection of entertainment and distraction, it’s become easier to be in a constant state of busyness than it is to do nothing. The myriad of our activities and world of multi-tasking deludes us that we are actually being more productive. The problem is we have lost the knowledge of balancing action with reflection. And the result can be psychological burnout.

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