If you're someone who keeps a miles-long to-do list at all times, you're probably familiar with the feeling of hitting a wall. After days of productivity, you suddenly find yourself hitting a wall—and suddenly you're launched straight into procrastination mode.
Procrastination never feels good, but it can be especially tough for people who pride themselves on being productive. If this experience sounds familiar to you, rest assured you're not alone.
And believe it or not, there is no greater aid to productivity than doing nothing—but that's not exactly an easy task to accomplish in today's world. "Our current social climate can cause us to feel like we have always be doing something," explains Gomattie Bell, LMHC at Humantold. "We can be sitting at home and then suddenly, we come across a post of someone out and about seemingly having a great time and we start to feel as though we are not doing enough."
But how does doing nothing actually help with productivity? And how can we stop talking about getting more downtime in, and actually put it into practice? Here's everything you need to know.
How downtime, or "doing nothing," can help you be more productive
Essentially, doing nothing provides us with the much-needed opportunity to decompress and reset, Bell explains, and gives us the energy to tackle new tasks.
Free time can feel tough to come by in today's go-go-go world, but when we do have it, we often think we should be using it to do things like see friends, get a massage, travel, or go on vacation—but at the end of the day, it can be just as good, if not better, to simply carve out some time to do nothing at all.
Wait, but what does it actually mean to "do nothing"?
The words "do nothing" probably conjure up an image of you lying your couch staring into space, right? While you certainly can do that in your effort to do nothing, it doesn't have to be the case.
"'Doing nothing' means doing whatever the heck it is you want," says Bell. "You know you better than any therapist, book, Instagram wellness page, or TikTokker ever could. Do what makes you happy, do what brings you joy, do what makes you feel relaxed—but do it with intent and consistency."
She suggests loosely scheduling self-care days on a consistent basis, as it can be extremely beneficial not only for your productivity, but overall sanity. "I'm all for a spa day or a leisurely stroll with a nice, iced coffee in the park (or mall), but sometimes, I just want to be a potato on the couch and indulge in Netflix and ice cream—and that's okay, too," Bell says. The key is to pay attention to yourself and your needs and do what you feel will assist with your decompression and reset.
How to schedule your workday for optimal productivity
If you're reading this, we're going to guess you're already a highly productive person. So if you want to schedule your day for optimal productivity so you can get things done in a timely manner (and leave more time for doing nothing!), Bell suggests prioritizing tasks based on urgency and importance.
"Once those tasks are completed, perhaps that would be a good time for a break," Bell says. "Additionally, I believe it is important to hold yourself accountable for the boundaries you set during the workday. For example, if there are a total of five tasks on your to-do list for the day and there are three you have decided need to be prioritized based on urgency and importance, hold yourself accountable for completing those three tasks then complete the other two. Once the five tasks are complete, try not to focus on what needs to be done tomorrow."
Above all, Bell suggests reminding yourself that taking some time to recharge does not mean you are weak or lack ambition. Quite the opposite: It can actually fuel your ambition. After all, at Silk + Sonder we believe ambition is powered by self-acceptance.
"Set boundaries. Take your PTO. Spend time doing things and being around people outside of work that will recharge your batteries. Lastly, learn what burnout looks like for you and learn to recognize triggers for its onset," she says.
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