The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.
— Bertrand Russell
One of the most popular productivity books of the past two decades is David Allen’s book Getting Things Done. And while I appreciate his approach, and use many aspects of it myself, I’m afraid that his title may lead some people astray.
Ultimately, it is not about “getting things done.” There are so many things to do, we could get things done 24/7 and still not make any progress. There will always be tasks to do. In our hearts we know this, right?
What matters most is choosing the right things to do, then approaching them with focus and organization. Too much attention on getting things done can lead us to overlook a crucial piece of the productivity picture: time for rest.
Every week, without fail, devote a day (or two half-days, if you must) to rest, rejuvenation, and re-commitment. Do those things that give you joy, that make you pause, that remind you of why you bother to “get things done” in the first place.
Without attention to rejuvenation and re-commitment, business people are in danger of burning out — that condition where nothing matters, no carrot is juicy enough, no stick is scary enough, to make us move. Do not flirt with burn-out.
Remember that your professional life is about the pace, not the race. You must create a pace that is sustainable over years in order to succeed as an entrepreneur. If you are ill, take days off. If you are frazzled, take an afternoon and do what you love. And every week, give some time to activities that provide rest, rejuvenation, and re-commitment.
Here are some of the things that give me some “R & R & R”:
- drive an hour to the mountains & hike among towering redwoods.
- drive to the beach, walk miles on sand, get chilled and sunburned, eat lunch at Barbara’s Fish Trap.
- attend a conference that really gets me excited about the possibilities of being an entrepreneur and reminds me that not only can I do it, I MUST!
- walk my feet off in the city (in my case, San Francisco.) Take pictures.
- if physical effort isn’t called for, spend a day (and I mean a whole day!) in a hammock with a library book that has nothing to do with work. I suggest West With the Night, by Beryl Markham – she’s not nearly as well-known as she should be.
- or spend the day on the sofa with a bunch of movies in the “watch instantly” queue: five good heists (The Thomas Crown Affair, Dog Day Afternoon, The Italian Job, Ocean’s Eleven, …) , ten hours of English history (Anne of a Thousand Days, Elizabeth R, A Man for All Seasons, Mary Queen of Scots, …), or six degrees of Kevin Bacon (Footloose, The River Wild, A Few Good Men, Mystic River, National Lampoon’s Animal House, …) — you choose the theme.
What have you done lately to rest, rejuvenate, and recommit? What will you do this week? Leave your comment here to spark ideas for other readers.