How busy are you today?

It’s funny how we can convince ourselves we are being productive, just because we are “busy”. Our entire culture promotes busyness, its good to be busy – right? Running from meeting to meeting, responding to an ever-increasing list of emails, telling anyone who will listen how busy you are….

But being busy is not the same as being productive. In fact, in order to be productive, sometimes we need to be the opposite to busy. Sometimes the best management skill is to do nothing!

There is plenty of research that tells us taking regular breaks when working helps productivity, along with good exercise and a healthy diet. But what I am talking about is literally doing nothing, or as the Dutch call it, Niksen.

So, what is Niksen? After all, we are always doing something, even when we’re asleep. Well, the best way to describe Niksen is like a car whose engine is running but isn’t going anywhere. More practically it is taking the time to consciously do things like sit completely still and stare out a window.

Now there are some who would call that lazy or idle, but you only have to do a little research to see how many studies there are showing that feeling exhausted during the workday dramatically reduces both performance and productivity. We all need time to let your mind switch off and re-charge, but most of us never give ourselves that time!

That’s because we’re not used to doing nothing, being busy is the norm. Our smart phones and other devices make it even harder for us to completely switch off. There is even research suggesting that by keeping ourselves busy all the time, we may be losing our ability to sit still because our brains are actually being rewired.

Niksen brings us a whole host of wide-ranging benefits. There is research that shows that day-dreaming – a natural result of doing nothing – literally makes us more creative and better at problem solving. It can also give you the chance to see things clearly for a while.

Taking the time to do nothing is also a great opportunity for you to reflect on what you have already done. We live in a world which travels at a break-neck speed and there is very little time to stop and get off. If you don’t give yourself the time to reflect on the decisions you have made and the actions you have taken, you dramatically reduce your ability to learn from your mistakes and plan how to do things differently next time.

So, next time someone asks you what you are doing during a Niksen break. Tell them! “I’m doing nothing!” Don’t apologize, you’re not being lazy, you are practising an important life skill whilst taking steps to dramatically increase your productivity!

Change Management is a great idea that will help you make changes to the way your business operates and lead you to greater performance and greater productivity. 

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