Feb 12

How to Balance Productivity and Relaxation for Better Results

Last month, I shared with you some tips on how to use podcasts and audiobooks to multitask and be more productive. I hope you found them useful and enjoyable. Podcasts and audiobooks have been transformative for me, as they allow me to learn new things, get inspired, and have fun while doing other tasks.

However, as much as I love podcasts and audiobooks, I also realise that it is possible to take it too far and risk burnout. Sometimes, we need to fit downtime into our schedule and find time to relax. This is not only good for our mental health, but also for our productivity. 

You might wonder how taking a break can make you more productive. Isn’t productivity all about doing more in less time? Well, not exactly. Productivity is also about doing things well, with quality and creativity. And to do that, we need to give our brains a chance to rest and recharge. This is something I learned from reading the book Feel-Good Productivity by Ali Abdaal, a doctor and a productivity expert. In this book, he explains that whenever we are pursuing an objective, simply being disciplined isn’t enough in the long run. We also need to make the activity as enjoyable as possible. This includes removing barriers, minimising fear and anxiety about the outcome, and also giving ourselves a break! 

According to Abdaal, the secret to productivity and success isn’t grind – it’s feeling good. And he reveals how to make our projects feel so enjoyable that productivity takes care of itself. He also introduces the three hidden ‘energisers’ that underpin enjoyable productivity, the three ‘blockers’ we must overcome to beat procrastination, and the three ‘sustainers’ that prevent burnout and help us achieve lasting fulfilment.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn how to work smarter, not harder, and have more fun along the way. You can find more information about it here

One of the objectives that I have been pursuing for a while is learning Spanish. I love this language and I’m hoping that in this year’s family holiday to Nerja on the Costa del Sol I am finally able to do more than just order “dos paellas, una cerveza y una copa de vino blanco” at the local restaurant! Initially, I was committing over an hour a day to this objective, using a couple of different Spanish audiobooks to immerse myself in the language. But learning a new language is quite heavy going, and when it all got too much, I went over two weeks without listening to any Spanish at all.

I realised that I was pushing myself too hard and that I needed to find a better balance. So, I decided to reset my target to half an hour a day and gave myself permission to miss a couple of days a week when I wasn’t feeling up to it. This has worked wonders for me, and I now feel my Spanish is back on track. 

Another thing that helped me was allowing myself to disconnect from time to time and enjoy the flow of my own thoughts out in the countryside. This was a great way to de-stress and allow my brain to recharge. It also boosted my motivation and creativity to learn a new language. 

For you, it might not be a walk in the countryside. It might be listening to music, painting, or watching a box set on Netflix. Whatever it is, giving yourself some time off to relax and unwind can make you more productive over the long-term. Research has found that taking breaks can improve your mood, boost your performance, and increase your ability to concentrate and pay attention. Downtime also replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life. 

So, the next time you feel overwhelmed by your workload, remember that productivity is not just about doing more, but also about doing less. By scheduling some downtime into your routine, you can do more of what matters to you, and do it better. 

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact me. I would love to hear from you. 

Until next time, stay productive and relaxed!

Written by Richard Fyfe, Director & Chartered Financial Planner at Fyfe Financial

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