This post was done in collaboration with the Mount Somerset Hotel, but as always all views are my own.
The world today is amazing. So many things are instant, exciting and fleeting, meaning that we feel we have to always be switched on. Flash sales, competitions, programmes– it’s amazing and it’s exhausting. I know full well that I am drawn into the fast paced life of social media as much as the next person, maybe even more so. I absolutely love it and thrive off it, but sometimes it gets too much. However, I have learned (and am still learning) that sometimes you can’t do everything, and you have to take steps to slow down. Sometimes, going at snails pace can refuel your race pace.
I have compiled some steps that I find useful to relax in the hope that you too might stop and think. When was the last time you weren’t doing something productive? I, for one, struggle to spend time doing unproductive things – even my relaxation time is usually in the gym. Whilst this can be an amazing way to be productive, productivity addiction is a real thing, and I think a lot of us suffer.
Signs you’re a productivity addict:
- Guilt when not doing something productive
- Reliant on stress and deadlines to get things done
- Constantly checking emails (and for me, social media) in case you’ve missed something important
- Always seen as ‘crazily busy’ by your friends (and yourself)
I 100% accept that I do all of the above, and whilst it’s sort of a laughable side-effect of the modern world, studies have shown that chronic stress has a plethora of negative effects on the body (and yes, even doing ‘fun’ things can make you stressed). So what can you do? Treat it like a real addiction and take steps to wean yourself off.
- Put down your phone
The world online can often be a source of anxiety, whether it’s through replying to emails, feeling inadequate next to perfect instagram girls or being reminded of all the amazing things your friends are (apparently) doing. I know all too well the temptation to wake up every morning and scroll through your instagram, facebook, twitter, email and snapchat, but try to disconnect your arm from your phone. Put it away for a few hours and see how you feel. On a weekend put it away for a day – nothing terrible happens, and it can allow your mind to focus more on the present, something far more fulfilling than living your life through other peoples’.
- Get away from the places that remind you of work
I try not to work at home, because I need a space to relax. It’s good to have a place where you can get into the mind-set of work, but equally good to have a place where you never work and never would. Sometimes, it’s good to get away altogether – my boyfriend and I recently went to the Mount Somerset Hotel and Spa for two days of relaxation. We spent the time in the spa, walking the grounds, eating food and relaxing. It doesn’t get much better. When you’re in a place purpose built for relaxing it’s difficult not to! Put your phone away and enjoy it! Visit a spa, or if you can’t afford the time or cost, a salon or even just a go on a walk – just get away from where you work and don’t think of anything except clearing your head.
- Start saying no
I am terrible at this. I live for events, meeting people and doing things for people. However, even when I have too much to do to feasibly manage everything, I still say yes. Why? Because it’s a habit that’s hard to get out of. I want all the experiences I can, and I feel saying yes all the time will push me further in life. Whilst this is true to an extent, if you start to do everything not very well because you’re stretched too thinly, the benefit disappears. Start saying no, and value your time more.
- Embrace doing ‘nothing’ and boredom.
This is something I think a lot of people (especially my generation) struggle with. I found myself alone with nothing to do the other day and I had no idea what to do with my time. However, studies show that boredom can lead to new ways of problem solving and increased creativity. I struggle to even sit in the bath because I get bored, but recently I’ve tried to let me mind wander – you might be surprised with what yours can do if you let it.
- Set yourself limits.
I know SO many uni students who procrastinate all day and then panic work all night, ending up ‘working’ for 13 hours a day. How much work do they get done? Seemingly very little, especially considering the hours put in. When given a deadline, most people are far more productive than when no deadline is set. Parkinson in 1995 said “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. Set yourself deadlines in the working day ie. 1) I will give myself one hour to write this post and then will do something else, and 2) My working day is from 9-6. After 6pm I will stop work and not think of it again until tomorrow. That gives you an entire evening to relax and do other things, rather than letting your work leak well into the evening because you have no set time to stop.
I am well aware that these pieces of advice aren’t always possible to implement in the modern world. After all, so many people rely on phones and emails for communication about important things. Sadly, it seems to be the case that we have to actually schedule in relaxation time to be able to enjoy it. But if that is the case, so be it – book your weekend away, or a walk with a friend or even a holiday and enjoy it in the moment. I truly believe allowing yourself to switch off from everything regularly increases your real productivity when you actually have to work.
Give it a go, there’s nothing to lose and so much to gain!