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Planning "Nothing" Time


I was never a good student when it came to math. Words came easier to me than numbers. I vividly remember one time I was younger, probably 8 or 9, when I was really struggling with some math problems. My mom saw my frustration and told me to go take a bath and get ready for bed. I resisted because it wasn't bed time. She said just do it and come back and finish the math homework.

Mom didn't understand the science, but she knew the result. She knew that going and doing something else would clear my brain and I would be able to come back and see the problems with a fresh eye. Sure enough, I came back to the table and could see the solutions to the problem right away.

I was taught, and believed, that they way to success was to work harder than everyone else. If they got 8 hours sleep, I would live with 7. If they worked 10 hours, I would work 11. Busy and burned out where badges of honor.

That is a horrible way to live and an even worse way to manage. Don't equate being idle with being lazy. They aren't the same thing. Your mind is this complex machine that keeps working on a problem in areas you can't know, even while you think you are doing nothing.

Build in idle time to your schedule - and encourage your team to do the same. Maybe not every day, but at least a few times a week. It doesn't have to be long - try 10-15 minutes. But really just focus on letting your mind relax. Then when you go back to those problems, you'll see them with a fresh eye.

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