Time Management


The Key To Productivity Is Rest

Getting caught daily in the endless cycles of productive work, we move towards extending and optimizing our productivity, not once thinking of stopping and taking a break.

The most overlooked key to productivity is to pause and rest, something that feels counterintuitive.

Xander A. (@xan_a211) - Profile Photo


Time Management

An evening stroll in the park or at the mall can be relaxing, as can be just staying in bed. The trick is to not let the normal work-related activities interfere with your restful off day. Do not measure this beautiful day with what you have accomplished, as that is missing the point entirely.

The purpose of this day is to help you feel better physically and mentally.

We need to do a mental check up on how we feel mentally, emotionally and physically, taking stock of our current and upcoming workload. A few pointers:

  1. Keep the media and news consumption on the lower side.
  2. Turn on blue-light filtering and minimize notifications on your digital device(s), enabling the airplane mode with wifi on if needed.
  3. Ward off any sleep debt by sleeping as long as you like, doing absolutely nothing even after waking up.
  4. Eat and drink whatever you like, indulging yourself. You earned this day by working hard 24/7.
  5. Do not worry about tomorrow.

You can design a super-restful off day according to what makes us enjoy our life. It can be a healthy activity or doing something that does not require you to use your brain. Self-care is also a good idea, with a hot aromatic bath or pedicure making you feel better and relaxed.

You may also do your normal routines like preparing a cup of coffee, simply because it is relaxing to you. It feels restful and nourishing to freely let the day unfold, without any pressure or expectation. An off day is supposed to help you just be, not just doing something as always.

Productivity warriors are so past ‘rest mode’ that even watching a complete movie in a relaxed manner is a challenging experience. We need to intentionally and thoughtfully design a restful off day, something that is increasingly difficult.

It is especially hard when we have our work desks right in the bedroom, or even on the bed. We need mental and physical demarcation to help separate our work from our life.

In our current society which has never ending workloads, having control over your own time is better than having someone else control it.

Resting is never a bad thing to do. Most especially if being able to rest gives us peace of mind, a sense of clarity, and stability.

As Max Frenzel once said about rest: it is an“investment into productivity, and into creativity.”

With having a strong work ethic, one must also have a rest ethic that is just as strong. To be able to function in our best, we must find the time to give ourselves proper rest. Think of it as breathing; if you keep inhaling, there will come a point where you'll reach your limits and need to exhale.

Burnouts are incredibly common nowadays and so it is even more reason to give yourself a well-deserved break.

The Badge Of Busy

Our perpetual busyness only encourages and grows our culture's obsession with work and being a workaholic.

We pride ourselves with how busy our schedules are working or going out with friends, but we rarely ever do make time for ourselves.

Doing various things at once is usually a way to quieten anxiety. When you're drowning in to-dos, it's calming to feel that you're getting to lots of them at the same time. It's also reassuring to think that you're handling all the issues, not just one.

But the feeling is misleading. Research shows that you waste time and energy "task-switching". Worse, each activity becomes a way of avoiding the next. It means that you make less progress in many areas, and you make less progress overall.

Doing too many things at once

The desire to do too many things at once is not new. It takes on an extra form at new year - the desire to also add a total life makeover, sorting out your work backlog, fixing relationship issues, your health, and your home repairs all at once.

The urge should be resisted. The one ingredient for a happier and more meaningful new year is the opposite: to improve your ability to do only one thing at a time.

  • Use a personal kanban: Divide a whiteboard into three columns - ready to do, doing, and done. Write your tasks on sticky notes, and stick them under one of the three columns. Allow one or two tasks in the "doing" column.
  • Batch your tasks: You'll get through more in one unbroken hour spent on one task than breaking up the task in smaller chunks throughout the day.
  • Cultivate deliberate imbalance: Instead of a life makeover, pick one area to focus on each month or quarter, and postpone the rest.

The biggest part of learning to do one thing at a time is trying to control that discomfort that comes from knowing what you're not getting done.

Success comes from building one thing at a time. There are limits. You can't put your job on hold while writing, or stop parenting while you work on your fitness. But you can strive to move your life in the direction of having only a handful of projects at any one time.

Cal Newport on better managing time
  • To-Do lists are useless. Schedule everything.
  • Assume you’re going home at 5:30, then plan your day backwards.
  • Make a plan for the entire week
  • Do very few things, but be awesome at them.
  • Less shallow work, focus on the deep stuff.
15-minute Mind Exercises

If you find your mind frequently jumping around, an app can be life-changing to help you focus.

It can train you to notice when your mind is wandering, and help you to get back on track.

Build & Track Habits

Use an app to get you into the routine of doing certain activities daily and weekly.

At first, it might feel silly to write day-to-day tasks down in an app, but the process of ticking them off and tracking your progress helps to get you into a routine.

E-mail can destroy your focus.

  • Turn off e-mail notifications on your work computer, so that you are in control of when to look at e-mails.
  • Schedule a time in the morning to reply to e-mails from the previous day.
  • E-mails that require a speedy reply are highlighted and get attended to on the same day.
  • Ditch social media during the day.

Read up about the daily routines of other CEOs, sports stars, etc.

You might not find an exact routine to suit you, but you might find some amazing ideas to use for your own life.

The modern working environment is making our ability to focus on a huge issue: Open-plan offices, social media, etc.

When you need to do deep work, remove the distractions and work on a single task. The task will get done quicker and to a higher quality.

How much time you should spend on deep work will depend on your job.

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