Rethinking Productivity

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During a recent networking event, attendees were asked to mingle and discuss some typical icebreaker questions; would you rather be invisible or be able to fly? What is your favorite sport in the Olympics? After some friendly conversation, we were asked to refresh our drinks and make a final trip to the appetizer table while pondering one more question: if you had one free hour each day, how would you use it?

Many people said they would like to spend more time with their families, especially their children. Between their jobs, commuting, soccer games and band concerts, finding downtime is often a challenge. Others would like to prioritize their health and use that time to work out. A handful of people preferred to use that extra hour for work emails, networking and other professional activities. One person simply said he would use that time to sleep.

My immediate response to this question was to use the time productively. I could stretch for longer following workouts. Tidying up the house wouldn’t hurt. I could increase how often I volunteer or join a language hour and brush up on my Spanish. Those were all things I probably should do. But what I would really want from that gift of time is to have an hour in my day that is unplanned. Maybe I’ll find myself on a walk in the neighborhood or baking that cookie recipe that I’ve been dying to try. Maybe I’ll Skype an old college friend or grab a coffee from the new café everyone’s been raving about.

It’s easy to simply brush off this question because we will never really get that extra hour. But it’s important to actually incorporate some unplanned time into my day, as I believe this will make me more relaxed and energized to fully enjoy and engage in the time that is planned. As you think about this question, I challenge you to make time for that hour in your schedule. The ultimate benefit is increased productivity in the long run.

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