I believe in the Western world, we have been conditioned to ‘get stuff done.’
We are soooo busy that we even judge the quality of each day based on how much ‘stuff we got done’.
If we got alot done today, it was a good day, but those days where we didn’t get much done – well those days are just terrible.
There’s nothing wrong with setting goals and striving to achieve things in life, but at times we can burn ourselves out with our ‘busyness’.
We’re so busy ‘getting stuff done’ that the idea of ‘taking a break,’ or ‘taking a rest’ is completely alien to most of us.
What’s ironic about this is, that in order to move forward, we need to schedule periods of downtime.
We were not built to be continuously ‘on the go’ – and in my experience when we succumb to constant activity, we are eventually ‘forced’ to take rest…because we get sick. Our body tells us ‘enough is enough!’
In the past, I have set myself some pretty extraordinary goals. And believe me, I’ve pursued them with pure focus and determination until I reached them.
What I’ve learned though, is that it doesn’t have to be that way.
And in-fact there is an easier, less forced way of ‘getting things done.’
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received from a ‘productivity expert’ was this:
When you’re really busy, the best thing you can do is to take rest
The thinking goes, that contrary to what you might want to do when you’re really busy (ie try and get as much stuff done as possible at all times) the best thing you can actually do if you have a really big week/month coming up, is to take 48 hours of complete rest.
So take the whole weekend off, do not think about what you have to get done at all and come Monday morning you’ll be so refreshed and recharged that you’ll be able to focus and get things done in half the time. Plus, instead of starting the week mentally exhausted, you’ll have the energy that you need to think with clarity.
I’ve tried this method and believe me it works.
Those times where we try to ‘force’ things to happen, we don’t really ‘feel’ like doing the extra work or activities this weekend, but we push ourselves and end up achieving not a great deal anyway because we are so exhausted. It’s those times when what we really need is to just switch off for a few days and then start with a fresh head come Monday morning.
This is also a great way to approach problem solving. If you’ve ever had a problem that’s weighed on your mind, the worse thing you can do is to think about it every day. By switching off for a couple of days, you give your mind and body a break from it, so you can approach it with the clarity and energy that you need to solve it.
Why people don’t like to take rest
There’s a misconception that we are ‘lazy’ if we take rest. And for someone who likes to achieve, this was a big thing for me in the past (and if I’m honest I still struggle with this from time to time). We feel ‘guilty’ for not being constantly active all the time. And so this is when we get things done – but badly. We are so frazzled that we don’t really produce quality work, we aren’t really focused on what we’re trying to ‘get done’ and the results are poor. Let me tell you something:
Taking rest does not make you a lazy person!
In-fact it makes you more productive. Think of it like filling up your car with fuel. If your car ran out of juice one day and it wouldn’t start would you say:
“What a lazy car! I can’t believe it won’t start. I just don’t have time to fill it up today – why can’t it just keep on going for a few more days!!?’
or would you say:
“No wonder the car has stopped – there’s no fuel in it! I better fill it up before I do some serious damage.’
Our bodies are like cars, we need to re-fuel every now and then so we can perform at our best. So please, please, whatever you do, look at ‘rest’ as a positive step towards ‘getting things done’.
And as we approach the Christmas break, I ask you to consider how you will use your time off this year? Will you try and cram every second to ‘get stuff done’ or will you take some valid time to rest and recuperate so you can start 2013 with a bang!?
Simple Life Strategy: How to Get Things Done When You’re Busy
1. Remember that periods of downtime are required in order to ‘get things done’ (this is NOT laziness).
2. Become aware the next time you feel like you are super busy. Are you ‘chasing your tail’ and trying to get things done, but it’s just not happening?
3. Look for signs of mental and physical exhaustion – this is a good opportunity to ‘stop’ and assess if you need a period of rest.
4. Take a 48 hour break from the problem or the ‘to do’ list and do NOTHING. Recharge, rest and recuperate.
5. Notice how much energy and motivation you have as you get stuck into that ‘to do’ list or problem once you are re-charged and ready to go!
Know someone in need of a rest? Share this article with them.
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