What are the unseen factors that influence our productivity so that something that looks lazy actually gets results?
- Actually getting enough sleep.
Not only does sleep consolidate memory, enhance cognition, and improve your mood, but its absence is disastrous. Failing to get sufficient sleep, many of us believe we’ve “adapted” but the truth is our cognitive performance continues to decline.
- Taking long walks just to think.
Since it’s not obvious to outsiders what we’re thinking about, it’s often the case that those staring off into space or “taking a break” are seen as slackers. Einstein used to take long walks to contemplate. He still spent many hours on his boat, idly pushing the rudder seemingly lost in thought, interrupted by bursts of scribbling equations in his notebook.
3. Chatting with colleagues about work.
Water cooler gossip is a tell-tale sign of slacking. Except when it isn’t.
- Taking a nap.
Sleep is important. Particularly so in the night when you can enter deeper phases of sleep that enable memory consolidation. The spoon trick involves napping with a spoon in your hand raised off the ground. When you slip too deeply into sleep, your muscles will relax, the spoon will drop and the clatter will wake you up.
- Say “No” to most opportunities and tasks.
“If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” Or, so the old saying goes. I actually think this saying conceals a hidden meaning. Busy people are those who have the hardest time saying no to those who make demands on their time. That’s why they’re busy.
Productivity doesn’t mean doing the most, but getting the most from what you have done.
- Taking regular vacations.
regularly going somewhere new — physically or mentally — is essential to avoid getting stuck in stale habits. Your routines eventually prevent you from discovering creative new solutions. Seeing and discovering new things is essential to prevent becoming inflexible in your thoughts and actions.
- Stop doing work you hate.
Nearly all people who have accomplished something of value did work that was meaningful and enjoyable to them. No, perhaps not all the time or without effort, but grinding for years at fundamentally unsatisfying work is rarely the recipe for greatness.
To really do work you love, sometimes you need to stop doing work you hate.