Newsletter: Productivity – Sometimes Less Is More
Continuing in our theme of exploring leadership concepts that aren’t always intuitive, one of the most impactful ways to be productive is sometimes to just sit still.
The value and challenge of stillness have come up personally and professionally over the last month. Many of us have been asked to work remotely and to stay home generally – to do less to protect the health of others. Ironically, mandates to do less became opportunities to do more. Very quickly, I heard from clients and colleagues about rooms and garages getting organized, building projects undertaken by hand, and major reading lists being tackled – likely due to the desire to stay “productive” amidst the uncertainty.
That urge to be busy resonates with me. In StrengthsFinder language, I lead with achiever, which means I like to get things done. Very few things are as satisfying as checking something off my to do list, even in the best of times. When faced with challenges, that strength goes into overdrive. I spring into action and try to do something about problems. The momentum is fulfilling (even soothing) short-term, but it often soaks up time that would have been better spent on the deep thinking that makes a difference long-term. Similarly, the most common roadblock our C-suite clients raise is not having enough “time to think,” which they cite as limiting their strategic impact.
If you practice mindfulness or meditation, you are probably reading this with a bit of an eye roll. Nonetheless, for myself and others who have not tapped into those disciplines, there is hope in creating (and protecting!) moments of stillness for thinking work. Even thirty minutes a week of scheduled thinking time can significantly shift your perspective from reactive to proactive.
Especially during times of dislocation, it’s easy to forget that productivity is not an end, in and of itself. It should be a means for achieving an important goal. If your goal involves strategic clarity or visionary leadership, the most productive thing you can “do” may be nothing.
Find more resources on productivity in this month’s newsletter.
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