One of the more profound things I heard recently, while watching an interview of Luke Landes from Consumerism Commentary, was this:
You don’t have to be productive 100% of your life.
Too often, we think have to be doing “useful” all the time. But will your dreams of wealth collapse if you aren’t always being productive?
Sometimes You Need a Break
Yes, it makes sense to be as productive as possible — when you’re working. After all, you want to work as efficiently as possible. But sometimes you just need a break. If you are always working, always trying to squeeze the last bit of production out of every minute of every day, you can start to get worn out.
A break can help you relax, unwind, and even do better work.
Recently, I felt I was running myself ragged. I found myself too busy, too frazzled, and trying to get everything done. I finally just stopped. For a few days, I did practically nothing. After I got through those few days, and started working again, things flowed much better. I got more done, and I felt better about doing it.
When you take some time for yourself, and just unplug for a little bit, you can re-set your mind. It’s one of the reasons that I don’t go to FinCon with the intention of filling up every spare moment with meetings. Sometimes, you just need a vacation. You don’t have to leave everything behind when you go on a business trip; in fact, you should probably get something done. But don’t forget to leave the work behind for a little bit.
If you feel like you are doing too much, but you also feel like you have to keep working because you feel guilty if you aren’t being productive 100% of the time, perhaps it’s time for a change in your mindset. Step back, and ask yourself what you might do if you had a little time to watch your favorite TV show, read a good book, or sleep in.
Or perhaps you should get outside in the sunshine and play with your kids.
Learning To Say No
Every couple of years, I re-learn the same lesson: Sometimes you need to say no.
It’s hard to turn down work as a freelancer. It’s hard to cut a client loose as well. But sometimes, you just need to say no. There are times when you really are too busy. And there are times when you need your break, and letting someone else commandeer that precious time just doesn’t make sense.
I often let things pile up and pile up. And then, finally, I remember that I can say no. It’s very freeing once you realize that you don’t have to take on more work. You don’t have to come from your job and spend hours on a side gig. While you can get ahead with a little extra work, and it’s possible to turn your side hustle into a full-fledged business, it’s important to realize that you don’t have to be working on it all the time.
It’s ok to walk away from the computer and turn on the TV for an hour. Yes, it’s true that TV can be a real time-killer. But relaxing for an hour isn’t going to completely derail your dreams of financial independence. I was reminded of that while watching that interview with Luke. So, while you don’t want to turn into a total coach potato, there’s nothing wrong with entertaining yourself for a little while each day.
Taking some time to just be unproductive might be just the thing to boost you overall productivity in the long run.
Photo credit: Seattle Municipal Archives