The power of pause is one of the most underutilized productivity hacks. I know it seems counterintuitive to pause when you are trying to be productive, but it will make all the difference in the world.
There is an old fable about a lumberjack competition between a young strapping lumberjack and an old grizzled lumber jack. Each was handed an ax, they stood up at ready and as the gun popped to release them to chop, something interesting happened. The older guy, stopped, sit down and sharpened his ax.
The young guy thought to himself, "I got this. I am surely going to win." He would be wrong. The older guy not only finished quicker, but he had a better stack. It was more clean and consistent. The younger guy was worn out so much that the older guy went over to help him finish!
The older guy understood the value of sharpening the axe. He knew that his instrument works best when it is sharp. You most valuable tool is your brain. If you take time to rest, it allows your brain to do what it does best, synthesize information.
Trust me, I love productivity. I have a standing desk and a white board system to keep me on track. Productivity without reflectivity will burn you out. When you take time to reflect on what you are doing, you take time to power up the full resource of your brain. In essence, you are sharpening your ax.
Tips for sharpening your brain:
- Start by turning off electronics. Turn off the phone and don't listen to music. It is important to let your brain relax and just take in what is around you.
- Take a walk in a natural setting: park, garden...something with lots of trees and nature.
- Take a scenic drive and let your mind wander.
- Take a bike ride around your neighborhood or park area.
- Go play on a playground, if there are no kids around. You don't want to be creepy.
- Laugh. Watch a funny movie, comedian or youtube video. Give yourself permission to laugh.
- Go to church. Religion plays an important role in your values and beliefs. Prayer does wonders for stress.
- Take a nap. Science shows that 20 minutes is the ideal time for taking a refreshing nap.
- Spend some quality time, face to face, with a loved one. Just listen and let them talk. Your brain will smile and so will the other person.
There ya go. I give you permission to at least once a week take time to pause and sharpen your best tool. It will help you stay more focused, more centered, and more productive.