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Doing Nothing Can Help You Be More Productive

By Andrew Storrier

2 min read

Small business owners often run themselves ragged following the “time equals money” maxim, perpetually doing stressful business activities such as sending endless emails, making tough phone calls and running from meeting to meeting. However, taking some time away from it all – even just 15 minutes – can actually make you more productive and engaged in the long run.

You’re Not Too Busy

Even though your to-do list is mounting, and there’s a client on the line, and your inbox is overflowing, you’re not too busy to pull the plug and unwind. The human brain isn’t built for long periods of sustained focus. Rather, it’s evolved to take on lots of different stimuli at once to ensure our survival. Trying to focus on all your responsibilities for 12 hours a day and remain truly productive isn’t going to work.

Taking a break allows your brain to do what it does best: daydream, or what scientists call diffuse thinking. And guess what? It’s during diffuse thinking that we have those light-bulb moments. A recent study showed these flashes of inspiration are more likely to occur if an idea is allowed to incubate, or if you distract yourself from the task at hand.

Even if the client is pestering you on the phone, say you’ll call them back, turn to the window and space-out. You never know – it might just solve all your problems at once. Even a 10-minute walk around the block can work wonders.

Read more about productivity: 4 Ways to Skyrocket Your Productivity.

Take long breaks

Sure, we’ve all taken a 15-minute break from time to time, maybe to grab a bite to eat and let our thoughts wander. But after that it was straight back into it. If you feel like you’re in a rut or things are moving too fast, it’s time for an extended break.

Spending a week away from it all can do your business wonders. Firstly, it allows you to rediscover what drives you and can help you refocus on your goals. Think of it as long-term diffuse thinking, which should help you re-prioritise what’s important to your business while you enjoy some much-needed rest and relaxation.

When you’re binging on some Netflix or enjoying some time at the beach, you’ll see what thoughts surface and your mind will automatically put things in perspective. After your much-needed rest, you’ll be reinvigorated and ready to hit the ground running.

Taking time out from your busy schedule is very important to boosting productivity and allows you to zero in on what really matters to the business, so schedule some downtime today.

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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