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Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Why it's Productive to be Lazy

I read a fantastic blog post by Joe Bunting the other day. I am a regular follower of his blog anyway but this post really got me thinking. He discussed how having at least one day off a week to rest is crucial in the long run for your productive state.

Now, I don't know about people in general but I am the type of person who will go stir crazy if I am sat around with nothing to do. I know this is some people's idea of bliss but I have to have goals set out to be completed at the end of each day. It is what I do and how I function. I may not be able to write a novel every week but there isn't a day that goes by where I am not one step closer to finishing one of my projects. I find I can cope better when I have the chance to work each day instead of taking copious amounts of time off, and then stressing out at the end of it when I realise there isn't enough time to finish what I want to do.

So, you can imagine how I reacted to Joe's post when I first read it. I can barely cope when I am doing nothing for just one hour, never mind one whole day. I began to think of how much I could actually cram into twenty four hours. At least several hours of writing, reading and typing. Dog walking, housework and spending time with friends. It seems that if I wasted the time it would put me behind by a considerable amount.

But then I started to think about what he was really saying. Our bodies are nothing but machines and if they're constantly working they are going to burn out quickly. And as a writer there's nothing worse than suffering from a bad case of burn out. When you're exhausted your immune system lowers its defences and you're more susceptible to infection. Your brain seizes up and you can no longer think. Joe also discussed how you can be more disciplined when you allow yourself a chance to rest, and that is a point where I completely agree. If I actually spent a day doing nothing and thought about what I would like to do over the coming week, I know my brain would be more focused on achieving those goals. I would be more conscious of the fact that I needed to work because I have allowed myself some time off.

I think self employed people have a hard time realising they should take some time out. After all, time is money, and money is time. The more you work the more products you'll have to sell. But are you focused on doing productive work or just work in general?

2012 is a busy year for me. I am now close to finishing my second book and my wedding is in the autumn. So from now on I will be spending my time as wisely as I can.

If you want to read Joe's post please follow this link:

So, how productive is this year turning out to be for you?


  1. I dare say I'll get some things finished, and others will still be lingering into next year. And I've learned not to beat myself up about that.

    Every now and then I have a day without technology (except the kettle and cooker!) So - no radio, TV, computer, mobile phone, iPod. What do I do? I walk, I read, I scribble in notebooks and generally reflect on how it feels to be really quiet. It's often quite difficult, somehow it reminds me who I really am.

    1. Hi Jo,

      Thanks for commenting.

      That sounds like a good idea to have one of those days, especially when technology has taken over the lives of so many people. You can still do so much without a computer, the tasks might not be finished as quickly but they can still be done. Whenever I need to look up some information I'll always use the internet but there's no reason why I can't go down to the library and use a book.

      Have a great week!

  2. I agree with Joe. We all need time to rejuvenate. When we go back to task we're five times as productive and more creative. I usually don't promote my blog on other people's, but it has so much relevance to this post. It's called Kick Back Moments. Check it out if you have a "moment."

  3. I have a post coming up about boredom and just how important boredom can be. These days very few of us ever experience boredom in the same way as very few of us experience hungry. Our kids will break down the kitchen door and announce that they’re starving and in their minds they are starving but they’re nothing of the kind. And it’s the same with boredom, the kind of boredom that creative types need to break free from, it doesn’t exist. I am under a constant onslaught of distractions. I frequently multitask and even when I’m supposed to be relaxing at the end of the day I’ll be sat there with my tablet reading blogs, news feeds and e-mails, weeding out the stuff I need to attend to the next day and the chaff I don’t intend to bother with. I’m a workaholic. I’ve always been one but the thing about any overindulgence, be it in work, drink, drugs, gambling, sex or cookies there are inevitably consequences and in my case that meant burnout. Burnout is another one of those words like ‘the flu’ that people misuse. No one had a touch of the flu—I’ve had the flu and it floored me for a week—and the same goes for burnout; no one has a touch of burnout. But you get over it, whatever it is, the alcoholic quits drinking, the drug addict goes through cold turkey, the cookie monster swears off sweets but work is like breathing and no one can give up breathing and so, after each bout, I would slink back to the grindstone and press my nose against it.

    Writers nowadays—especially those who decide, rightly or wrongly, to wander down the self-publishing route—are setting themselves up for a fall if they have any natural inclination to overwork because they have to wear all these different hats and many of us find that what we imagined we’d be doing—i.e. writing—gets kicked to the sidelines and most of our time is taken up with all the other jobs. And it is very hard to unwind without suffering from withdrawal symptoms the major one being guilt.

    Some writers are machines or at least they do a very good impression. They get up at 5 a.m. and crank out 3000 words before breakfast day in, day out and all credit to them. I hate them. I hate them because I feel that that’s what I should be doing but I’m not that kind of writer. I’m perfectly capable of churning out 3000 words in a day and I do it not that infrequently but that’s non-fiction which is so much easier to write than the kind of fiction I am drawn to. The fiction I write comes out of a long gestation process and cannot be rushed. I wish it could. I really need time to myself but the problem I’m finding at the moment is that little jobs like this eat up my day and they never end. There are always blogs to comment on, Facebook entries to like, e-mails to answer etc etc and if you don’t keep on top of them your public profile (such as any small fry like you and I have) vanishes overnight. I’m not sure it’s worth it.

    See that’s me dashed off 621 words in what? Twenty-five minutes maybe? And this isn’t even a very long comment, not by my standards anyway. I am concerned about how things are going with me because I see the early signs of burnout rearing their ugly head again and that last breakdown was a doozie and I’m not keen to go back there. But it’s hard changing who you are.

  4. I'm having a great year! (My first novel, 'Escape to the Country' will be published in March) I'm good at being lazy so maybe that's the secret of my success?

  5. Hi Peggy,

    I checked out your blog!


    Thanks for commenting. I'm not one of those writers either who can churn out that many words, certainly not at that time in the morning anyway!


    Good luck with your novel. I wish you every success.

  6. Love that this is causing you to even rethink your identity. Great post!

  7. I'm glad you like it, thank you for the inspiration! I'll follow you closely now for any future wise words :)