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Wellbeing

Make 2022 your most unproductive year ever

koala bear relaxing in a tree

Too often as business leaders, we think of productivity in terms of action and output. And, similarly, we too often learn that this approach is neither sustainable or beneficial.

Being constantly ‘on’ exhausts both body and mind, and this could eventually lead to burnout—the effects of which are the opposite of productive! Just listen to this podcast

So, instead of starting the New Year with the aim of being more productive, how about learning to be unproductive? No, this doesn’t involve succumbing to the lure of Netflix and a massive bag of crisps, it simply means developing one or two habits that take you away from the strains of entrepreneurship, while being beneficial to your physical and mental wellbeing.

Here are four such ‘unproductive’ habits that’ll boost your levels of energy and encourage new ideas to take hold.

Zzzzz…

man sleeping next to his dog
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

In the business world especially, there’s a lot of emphasis on you being this superbeing who’s up at 5am and in bed by 12 or 1am, having crammed in a 50-mile bike ride in the morning, a successful day at the office, followed by quality family time and some more work after that.

This might seem heroic on the surface, but denying yourself proper rest eventually depletes your resources. Constantly living on four hours of sleep is not a sign of success—it’s just another route to burnout.

Simon Jeffries—a former Special Forces solider and co-founder of The Natural Edge—believes that sleep is the biggest performance enhancer. You can listen to his thoughts on the subject in this podcast.

Of course, he’s far from the only one to subscribe to this belief—there are countless studies on the effects of both efficient sleep and sleep depravation. In short, the former boosts energy and creativity (duh!), while the latter is detrimental in every possible way (also duh, duh).

So, make 2022 the year you get into a healthy sleeping routine and stop feeling guilty about having a lie-in on the weekends.

Don’t be afraid to take a break

Think pushing through your exhaustion is admirable? This study found that taking regular breaks—the study calls them ‘diversions’—refreshes your brain and increases productivity. It also concluded the opposite—spending too long a single task without taking a break decreases focus and creativity.

There are myriad ways of taking a break during your workday, and with most of us now regularly WFH, it’s easy to slot in regular snippets of downtime to replenish yourself. Whether it’s a lunchtime workout, a walk to the shops or simply brewing the perfect pot of tea or coffee, frequent away-time is an amazingly powerful way to reduce stress and revitalise yourself.

You can also try the Pomodoro technique, and adapt it to your needs. (NB. The Pomodoro technique sadly has nothing to do with a surprise link between eating lots of pasta and high productivity rates).

LOL

man laughing outside
Photo by Brian Lundquist on Unsplash

Next time you feel guilty for watching some or other ridiculous video clip at work, stop yourself—laughter not only pumps your veins full with feel-good endorphins, it also reduces blood pressure.

The act of simply letting yourself go and having a good laugh is a thing we’re sometimes reluctant to do, especially when things are getting stressful. But the irony is that it’s when things are particularly pressurised that laughter can act as a release valve. I’m of course not advocating hilarity when your business is in dire trouble, but the usual day-to-day stresses of running a business can swiftly be relieved by a bit of LOL.

Zero, zip, zilch, nada

How about the idea of doing absolutely nothing? Learning to simply ‘be’ is much harder, and much more beneficial, than it sounds.

Whether it’s through practices like meditation or breathwork, the act of ‘doing nothing’ has proven long-term benefits and is a great way to clear the cobwebs from your mind. Something like meditation can seem fraught with all sorts of complexity, but it’s actually really simple to get into—the key is to turn it into a daily habit. Just 20 minutes a day is enough for you to feel the effects.

Here’s to a 2022 of doing less and being more…

fingertips dipping into calm water
Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash

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