By: Dragos Bernat
Introduction: This will be a series about The 12 Most Important Productivity Habits. In each article only one habit will be discussed. This is to simplify reading and productivity. Focusing on one habit at a time allows for an effective practice. At the end of the series there will be a post summarizing all the productivity habits together.
Productivity Habit #10 – Relax and manage.
We all have days when we are in the zone. You know what this means. We get in a state where things just flow. Everything is fluid and works well. Being productive just happens. But unfortunately we can’t always have these days. (As much as we want to).
This next habit may seem contrary to being productive, but it’s sometimes needed to increase productivity. We all need breaks. We all need to take time off in order to be productive. Unless you’re a high-powered machine this habit won’t be necessary.
I have days that are just off. These are days that just don’t workout for me. I can’t really define what’s wrong, but I just can’t be productive. No matter how hard I try, it just doesn’t want to happen. I find that the harder I try to be productive the worse it gets. Sometimes I feel like I am becoming productive but my results say otherwise. Even though I do things; the quality of what I do; lacks.. My high-priority task each and every day is to write. But sometimes when I’m having an off day; my writing is terrible. I end up re-writing and editing that sometimes I just stop and give up. I become frustrated at myself and my work. And in turn I just end up hurting myself.
I hold it against myself and start getting upset that I haven’t accomplished anything. Instead of trying to make an off-day productive (and ending up with bad results); I now focus on relaxing and managing. The idea behind this is to relax and go slowly. Me being upset and hard on myself isn’t going to boost my mood or increase my productivity. So I focus on managing my tasks for tomorrow. And It makes being productive the following day; rather easy. I already know what I have to do, and how I can achieve my goals. And I get to relax and get the mental and physical break I need.
How I learned to relax and manage
- Make a list. Make a list of what you need to do for tomorrow. List up to 3 tasks in order of priority. This can be your projects, work-related, goals or habits (and anything else you can think of).
- Manage. Using only your list; see what you can manage. Look up ways to see how you can make your tasks easier. What tips can you use to help you achieve your goals? See if you can ask a friend/co-worker or partner for help with your task. Have a conversation and ask for help. Everyone is willing to lend a hand if you know how to ask right. Just don’t take advantage. Also see if there are any applications/software that might be able to help with your tasks.
- Bonus Tip: Delegate or outsource if possible. If you have the funds to delegate the smaller things then see if you can outsource it to someone else.
- Relax. After you have made your list and managed your tasks; take some time to relax. You’ve done all you can. A relaxing and well deserved break is healthy and recommended. Taking a mental break is proven to increase productivity.
- The order. There’s no set order to this. If you feel you need to relax first then make a list; do so. Find what works best for you.
Even though we all want to be productive sometimes we need to learn when to slow down and just relax. I find it relaxing when I read a book, do some reading/preparation work on my following tasks, going for a walk, taking a nap or just mediating. I find going for a walk clears my mind and allows me to refocus. My favorite type of relaxation is meditating before bed, as it helps clear my mind and always makes me feel well rested.
If you want to take brief intervals of rest and then be productive, then do so. If you want to try managing, followed by relaxing, then do so. Experiment and see what works for you.
So how do you like to relax?