Top 10 productivity lessons I've learned indulging in idleness for a week

Original author: Chris Bailey
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We continue to acquaint you with translations of Chris Bailey's articles, where he shares tips he learned during the “a Year of Productivity” project . Previously, we published articles by this author, they are available on our blog in the section "personal productivity" . We want to remind you that the common goal of all articles is to share the author’s experience on how to become more successful and effective everywhere: in your personal life, relationships with friends, yourself, and of course at work (whatever you do)!

So, give the floor to Chris!

Main conclusions:

Instead of lazy, be kind to yourself, distribute your time, and to let off steam, do not indulge your desires - find nice ways to relieve stress, for example, massage. Learn how to manage your attention and the expectations that other people have in you. Bear in mind that good and bad habits should be taken together. If you want to make changes in your life, start small, so that they truly become part of your daily life. Finally, do your best to find more sources of energy.

Does it concern meditating for 35 hours a week, watching 70 hours of video on TED talks in 7 days, living in complete solitude for 10 days, or using my smartphone just an hour a day, I like to look at productivity from different angles, and then describe everything that I learned.

All last week I was an absolute idler in the name of productivity. I only took a shower twice, ordered food at home, at least once a day, watched TV at least 2 hours a day and did not go in for sports, did not meditate, did not shave, did not get up early, did not spend time with people. As in the cases with previous experiments, I made many conclusions, which I will write about below.

Here are 10 key productivity lessons I've learned while indulging in idleness last week!

10. Be kind to yourself.

imageNo matter how you strive to increase productivity, if this process is not easy, then you will not value your productivity. At the end of the day, this will make you much less happy, and all the accomplishments will mean much less to you. A few ways to be kinder to yourself? Take more breaks, lower your expectations, develop habits that make you happier, and meditate!

9. Even if you want to be a lazy person (or relax), you must allocate your time.

Sunday noon is the least happy and productive hour in the USA. Why? Because during this period, people are least likely to plan their time. Distributing your time (at least a little) helps you focus, motivates, makes you happier and gives you goals, as it sets the framework within which you can live.

Even if you want to go awry a week, planning your time in general will allow you to maintain a positive attitude.
8. People with high productivity have a talent for managing their attention.

By introducing into my life habits such as eating well, playing sports and meditating, I began to better manage my attention since I started my A Year of Productivity .

But during this particular experiment, I found myself constantly looking for ways to instantly satisfy - in the form of a tasty fast food that I could order, something entertaining on TV or a funny new toy that I could play on my iPad. At some stage of the experiment, I finally ceased to control my attention and began to constantly be distracted from one to the other.

Depending on how focused you are on the future, you may find yourself rushing from one extreme to the other; You jump from classes that attract you instantly to those that are useful to you in the medium or long term.

The better you manage your attention, the better you manage to direct it to classes that are more useful for you in the long run, while at the same time managing to get the joy of what you do in the short run.

7. Do not forget to “let off steam” from time to time.

imageI love to talk about how bad laziness is and how to try to increase productivity, but I also think that it is important to let off steam and relax from time to time. We are not robots, and we should not take our desire to increase productivity too seriously.

I am not saying that there is any value in being a bummer; after all, when you truly are, you don’t bring anything into your well-being or the well-being of others. However, sometimes it’s still necessary to let off steam. Do not abuse, but try to reward yourself by breaking new milestones on the road to productivity.

Allowing yourself to go awry is one way to let off steam, but in the long run it is not the most useful. Is there a more rewarding way to relieve stress? This is finding more positive, effective perfumes to relieve stress.

6. Find positive vents to relieve stress.

Scientific studies have shown that when you are stressed, the brain tries to find the fastest way to solve the problem. But these solutions usually turn out to be temporary and do not actually lower the level of stress hormones in the body. 9 positive, proven ways to really reduce stress? Physical exercises, meditation, reading, music, walking in nature, chatting with loved ones, massage, creative hobby, going to church.

5. Indulging your momentary desires - this is not self-love.

All week during the experiment I indulged my desires; eating, watching and listening to something brought me quick satisfaction. But thinking about the experiment, I came to the conclusion that indulging your passions is not the same as loving yourself.

When you indulge your desires (shopping, food, watching TV), you, in fact, invest your time in entertainments that do not bring you any return, besides some momentary pleasure. I do not think that you call anything self-love that harms your mental or physical health. Self-love has nothing to do with indulging your weaknesses, it is associated with respect and compassion for yourself.

Respect for yourself includes finding positive vents to relieve stress and investing time in yourself, instead of trying to just get quick satisfaction. For a moment, this seems like a fun pastime, but in the end it hurts your mental and physical health.

4. Learn to manage other people's expectations about you.

In my opinion, many people are fooling themselves into thinking that their colleagues or clients rely on them much more than what actually happens. For this reason, they often constantly check corporate mail in fear that colleagues cannot do without them.

But last week, when I made myself inaccessible, I discovered that this was a fallacy. When people know that you are inaccessible, they do well without you. Unless you are Barack Obama, the world will not collapse when you step back a step from your work. People will find a way to miraculously solve their problems themselves.

I think one of the most useful skills you can get is learning how to manage people's expectations about you. If people know that you are inaccessible in the evenings, on weekends, and while on vacation, you will reduce your stress and overall workload. And since pauses in work can greatly increase your productivity , in the end it will be even better for your work.


3. Bad habits must be taken together

During my week of total idleness, I put my time and energy only into activities that stimulated my mind and body for only a short time. After the first use of fast food, I noticed that my energy level fell, and then continued to decline rapidly during the week. A few days without a shower and normal food led to the appearance of acne on my face, which is why I began to worry about my appearance. The lack of sports further reduced my motivation, as a result, my desire to eat fast food became even stronger. Etc.

I personally believe that even if you consider your habits separately from each other, they are closely related. When you acquire a bad habit, it can lead to new bad habits or even make you give up good ones. Thus, you pay a higher price for bad habits than you expected.

Fortunately, good habits should also be taken together.


2. Start small.

Very small.

I think the key to achieving greater productivity is to make only one small change at a time. This may seem paradoxical, but the reason is simple: the less change you try to make in your life, the more likely it is that you really will do it.

Interestingly, the more I goofed off, the stronger my determination to become more productive, but the irony was that I had less energy, willpower and focus on real changes. The further I went deeper into the experiment, the greater the changes I wanted to make in my life and the more exaggerated requirements I made to myself.

The key to successfully making changes to your habits, behavior, and daily activities is to start small, very small, because these changes really integrate into your life. I played with changing my habits and daily activitiesfor eight months with this project, and when I make changes to my habits, I still try to make them as small as possible so that it really works.

This is paradoxical. But when you are determined to make changes in your habits, if you want it to work out, take the smallest steps.

1. Do your best to find more sources of energy.

imageAbout halfway through the experiment, I realized something interesting: I removed from my life everything that gave me the most energy, including exercise, healthy food, meditation, people, earlier awakening and a sense of cleanliness. When I lost all these things at once, my productivity instantly dropped, but the two main sources of energy that I missed the most were exercise and proper nutrition.

If physical exercises were in the form of tablets, you would take one at a time, because it gives such great benefits. It's not just that you stay in good shape (although this is a nice bonus). Sport improves brain function, relieves stress, gives more energy, prevents heart disease, cancer, diabetes, immune system diseases, trains the heart, prolongs life, and this is only the beginning of the list. If you seriously intend to become more productive, exercise. It's that simple. You will need some willpower to drag yourself to the gym, but it's worth it.

Another way to get a lot of energy is to eat right. At the most basic level, food is the fuel that charges you for a day. If you fuel your body with high-quality fuel, you naturally supply your mind and body with enough energy for high productivity. But if you eat garbage all day (or all week), as I did, your energy level, motivation and ability to concentrate will drop.

In my opinion, if you are serious in your intention to become more productive, you should do everything possible to find more energy sources. At a basic level, we humans have two main resources: time and energy. There are no ways to increase the amount of time, but there are hundreds of things that you can do right now to become more energetic and due to this it is better to manage the available time.

Everything is good in moderation

I admit that there is a certain degree of freedom in being a lazy person when you are not bound by your own limitations and are not subjected to pressure from yourself or the world around you. Of course, at first you can feel guilty for wasting time, but when you start to skip from one entertainment to another - food, TV, movies, video games, even more food - you become the notorious metal ball in a slot machine. You jump from entertainment to entertainment, unable to overcome the force of attraction to another bar of chocolate, not able to resist the temptation to go through another level or watch the next one episode of "House of Cards".

There is nothing wrong with relaxing and climbing onto a sofa with legs. In fact, although I have devoted a year of my life to maximizing productivity as much as possible, I am ready to argue with arguments that it is very important to relax, take breaks and tidy yourself up mentally and physically if you want to become more productive.

But like all good things, laziness is good in moderation. Sloppiness robs you of energy, awareness, motivation and, if you are not careful, even happiness - the reasons why you wanted to increase productivity.

PS Some time ago we published one of the most interesting articles from Chris Bailey - Zen of Early Awakenings: 10 ways to fix the morning ritual .

The author of the translation is Vyacheslav Davidenko, founder of the companyMBA Consult

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