Working hard is one of the supposed defining characteristics of freelancers, remote workers, solopreneurs, and startup founders. We take pride in our ability to stay glued to our laptops for 10-12 hours a day. We take pride in the constant emails we send from our smartphones while we’re in line at the grocery store. We take pride in being busy – because if we’re busy, we must be hard workers, and being a hard worker is how we measure our self-worth.
But what if you could get better results for your business in less time, and have more fun while you’re at it? What if slacking off was the best way to work smart, instead of hard? What if you could have a life and embrace distractions without your work suffering?
Here are just a few reasons why slacking off isn’t a waste of time, and why you should make time to just waste time.
Goofing Off Lets Your Brain Keep Working on the Problem
Your brain is a powerful problem-solving machine, and if you simply leave it to its own devices, it’ll create more solutions – and better solutions – than you could’ve imagined.
In eras gone by, standing there and doing nothing was frowned upon, because sitting idle on an assembly line in a factory accomplished nothing. If you wanted to get work done, you had to actually do something.
But nowadays, the biggest and most profitable innovations are found in the little electrochemical reactions that happen between your synapses. And when you shift your attention away from the problem, you allow your powerful subconscious mind to keep working on it – which can often produce more creative, more effective solutions than if you had kept grinding away.
Distractions are Helpful: Your Mind Craves Variety
You can lead a tech worker to a desk, but you can’t make him think.
The human brain is designed to take in novel stimuli and create new connections with old material. It’s designed to take in a smorgasbord of stimuli and turn those stimuli into brilliant new things.
And when you give your brain only work, with no outlet to be creative or to connect with other people, it’ll use its considerable curiosity to find new ways to get out of doing work.
But when you allow yourself a few (controlled) distractions, your brain can find the inspiration, ideas, or distraction that it needs and then come back to the task at hand more energized than before.
Studies have repeatedly shown that when done right, a remote work arrangement can boost productivity and help employees to be more effective at their jobs. Part of the reason? There’s more room for distraction.
According to Bloomberg, distractions aren’t causing us to slack off – they’re teaching us to get more work done in less time. Which is important because….
Productivity Is No Longer Tied to Hours Worked
The common wisdom would tell us that working longer hours necessarily results in you getting more work done. After all, if you can build 10 widgets in an hour, then working 12 hours a day instead of 8 should mean that you get an extra 40 widgets built every day.
But just because you work longer hours, that doesn’t necessarily mean you actually get more work done. While overtime hours may have made sense during the Industrial Revolution, today, your work output doesn’t necessarily depend on the number of hours you work.
Researchers at Stanford have shown that there’s a limit to how much you can boost your productivity by simply working longer hours. And according to Psychology Today, people who take more frequent breaks actually get more work done.
In other words? Slacking off (within reason) boosts your productivity.
Sure, you could work 60 hours a week every week for years on end, but ultimately, you’ll get no more work done than if you’d worked shorter hours and made time to have a life. And in the winter, when it’s cold and dark out, giving yourself leisure time is one of the best ways to get more work done while holding on to your sanity.
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