Be Unproductive—to be Productive

by Rachel Miller

September 24, 2021

ABOVE :Tobias Tullius

When it feels like lately it’s harder to stay focused, to stay on track–it feels monotonous, strained, frustrating. When it feels like you’re just going through the motions and the motion feels effortful–more than it should, more than it usually does. Consider: what you’re lacking, isn’t effort, isn’t motivation, but rest. Free time. Time where you can be unproductive.

Without rest, you can’t recover. This goes for your body and your mind. Especially, your mind. Your mind requires rest, just as much as your body. Maybe, even more so–since it’s readily forgotten.

Consider: unproductivity is essential for productivity. Planned, purposeful leisure is one of the best things you can do to maintain focus and stamina over time. Unproductive time allows us to recover from mental work. To proactively recover before we fatigue. Before we get burnt out. It replenishes our energy stores and clears our minds. It meets our needs for leisure, for fun. It enables us to face the demands before us with a renewed sense of focus. Our work—our necessary work—is made easier. We’re focused. Our mind is clear. We have recovered with more energy, more stamina, more ability to maximize our efforts where they matter most.

Schedule in time to be unproductive:

  • Schedule in time to do that thing you find relaxing, fun. What energizes you and makes you feel at ease.

  • Write it in your calendar. Make it a requirement so you give yourself permission for it and hold yourself to it like any other task or demand.

  • Proactively schedule in time to rest, before you feel you need it. Make it a weekly requirement. An essential hour in your week.

  • Consider: this time is productive. Recovery is essential to performance. Physical and mental. Without rest, we cannot recover. Without rest, we cannot work to our full capactiy. This time is essential to meet our goals.

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