Taking a Thinking Break
The third idea that I have as it relates to our productivity and that's taking a thinking break, because you probably found that your mind went to some fascinating places, right, it went to the past, it went to the present, it went to the future and the truth is that there is a remarkable amount of value in where our mind goes to when it wanders, right and you might have experienced this the last time you were taking a shower, right, if you think about when your best ideas strike you, you're not focused on something usually, maybe your mind is at rest, it's wandering, you know, you mentioned that, you know, when I was asking, what's wrong with this idea of focusing all the time? You mentioned not taking enough breaks and that is probably I think, something that a lot of people overlook, when it comes to our productivity, is that by taking breaks, especially ones that let our mind wander or able to take advantage of where our mind wanders to, whether we're taking a shower, whether we're...
on a nature walk, because there are two attentional modes, that we seesaw between over the course of the day, there is the focused mode, where we're focused on something, we're on our smart phone, whether it's deliberate or not, we're focused on something and then there's the daydreaming mode right here, where our mind is at rest and when you let your mind rest, you'll find that it likes to wander, it likes to daydream and it wanders, the science shows to some fascinating places, it wanders, you know, we think we spend a lot of time in the past, but the truth is that isn't necessarily the case, the experience sampling studies, where they probed people, when their mind was wandering on something, found that when our mind is wandering, it wanders to the past only 12% of the time, when we're reminiscing, when we're recalling something, if we're going through a big, personal concern at that time, then it wanders to the past more, but it wanders a lot more to the present and to the future, when we let our mind be, it wanders to what we're doing in that moment or just before, 28% of the time, this is when we make strategic decisions, this is where our mind goes, when we're typing up an email and we're stuck and we think man, maybe the way I phrased that was a bit rude, maybe I should think about that a little bit and then we come back, where we leave for a little bit, our mind wanders and then we come up with a great way to phrase something, it wanders to the present 28% of the time, but it wanders to the future more than the present and the past put together, it wanders to the future 48% of the time, this is why when you're taking a shower, your mind is planning your entire day and what you're gonna do that day and that weekend, it wanders to the same day, to the same week and beyond. If you wanna think strategically, it's important to sit down and plan and organize the things that you have to get done, but it's just as essential that you let your mind be, something that we don't get enough of and if you're good at math, these numbers don't add up to 100%, that's because the rest of the time, we don't necessarily have a temporal focus, so we're not rooted in one time, we're thinking of an idea or our mind is dull or blank or something like that and so taking these breaks and interspersing these opportunities, whether it's, you know, making a small, incremental improvement, where instead of stepping back from your computer with your phone, you take a step back and you let your mind wander around the office just for a minute, maybe you go to the washroom without your phone, as scary as that might sound, but these breaks, they let you plan and they let you think and they let you set intentions, right, if productivity is about working deliberately and with intention, this is one of the most productive things that we can do, these breaks let us think strategically, they let our mind rest, you know, if we never let our attention rest, we're gonna run out of it and they let us unearth ideas, because by wandering to the past, to the present, to the future, we're able to connect all three, right, have you ever been taking a shower and suddenly this eureka insight strikes you from out of the blue and it's like, oh shit, that's how I should approach that conversation at work, because you remember the conversation you had a few months ago with somebody else and you connected that to the problem, that you're facing that day and then you connect that to how you're gonna plan out the future and approach that conversation later on. There's such value and this is where we connect ideas too and you know, I'm a big nerd about how traffic flows in addition to productivity and if you look at how traffic flows down the highway, what you'll see is that what allows it to continue moving forward isn't how fast the cars are moving, it's how much space exists between the cars, that allows traffic to move forward and the tasks in our work are the same, by creating more space around the things that we do, whether we're at home taking a good shower or a bath or setting some time for the sauna after the gym or booking a massage at home or walking around the block in the morning without your phone and maybe with just a notepad instead, whether it's taking a run at lunchtime, whatever it might be, getting into this mode, where we let our mind rest is so crucial and so powerful.