There are countless blogs, articles, books, webinars, seminars, tweets, and LinkedIn posts teaching us how to squeeze one more minute out of our already jam-packed schedules.  Trust me, I’ve read more than a few. In the time it takes someone to read the “4-Hour Work Week”, a task could have been crossed off the never-ending to-do list we all have somewhere.

Processes such as time blocking, turning off emails, forgoing social media and TV all work – they will allow you to indeed gain back precious “work time”.  However, long term this just isn’t sustainable.  It’s called Burn Out.  I know, I’ve been there. 

Our bodies can only take so much, and that includes our brains and our souls.  The productivity hack you are probably ignoring is called a vacation, a time out, “me time”, Zen time – in other words it’s doing “NOTHING” for however long is needed.

When we take time to “just be”, we allow our brains to detox of everything that’s swimming around.  I’m not saying go to the beach and read self-help books on how to be more productive, I’m talking about truly letting go and unplugging from everything work and hell, life related. 

The however long part depends on how toxic your stress levels are, it may be an afternoon, or it may be a 2-week jaunt to the beach where there is no cell service and no Starbucks where you can get Wi-Fi. 

If taking 2 weeks away from your business, your career, and your life seems daunting start small and take an afternoon.  No plans – really.  If nature soothes your soul, do that.  If going to a museum helps you destress – do that.  If staying in your kitchen and cooking up a storm brings you to an amazing Zen level – put on your apron. 

Before you go, write down in a journal or notebook how you feel.  Where is your stress level?  After your hiatus, go back and do the same – what is the difference?

The key is you must turn off your mind, you must slow it down, and really be present in the moment. Let your senses become alive with what you are doing in those moments.  My personal experience tells me you will feel 100% better after and as a bonus when you do head back to the office, you will do so with a clear mind and be able to really focus on work. 

Slowing down and self-care are a vital component of being productive.  It took me more than a few years to understand the power of this equation, and when I did it was life changing.

What do I do?  I’m a Pilates fanatic, I never miss my date with my instructor.  My husband Jim and I are avid sailors and take out our sail boat “Wind Runner” whenever possible and I’ve mastered the art of alone time.  Exercise, the open sea, some mediation, and a great book helps me reboot my system every time.