Not Doing is Equally Important as Doing

Photo by Gabby K on

The above title sounds contradictory and quite stupid. I thought so too as I typed it actually. But I’ve been thinking about the importance of breaks. Or time away from certain tasks or projects. I don’t mean that the best way to accomplish something is to not look at it and leave it alone. Clearly not. However, in our pursuit of certain outcomes, aims and goals we can sometimes be too narrow and single minded. Focusing on something too much can take away a lot of our other abilities. For example your creativity, your spontaneity, your ability to connect dots. Sometimes persevering with something can be at the detriment of other things. When you were a child and you got stuck on a problem or hit a rut in your homework or got stuck with something – common advice from a parent or teacher may be to leave it and come back to it. You temporarily give up or take a break. When you look at the problem with a fresh pair of eyes you often find it’s easier or you see it in a slightly different way. Maybe thinking about other problems has got the cogs in your head moving again. Or the act of taking a break allows you to come back fresh. Even as adults we often take a quick coffee break and come back to a meeting or discussion. Or we move on and return to a topic that is dragging on later in the agenda. We seem to recognise that sometimes the best way forward is to take a step backwards – or sideways – even temporarily. This may help us in fact take two step forwards or find a more valuable path to go towards instead. This isn’t meant as a “put down tools/don’t try” manifesto, It’s a reminder that sometimes pure persistence can actually be part of the problem. It’s when we remove ourselves from something we’re better able to return to it in a more productive manner. I see a lot of things online and on social media about “grinding” and “don’t give up” and while these are motivating and inspiring it can sometimes send people off in the belief that the only way is through. Rather than around or perhaps assessing whether the thing you’re focusing on is the right thing in the first place.

We all like to be productive and feel like we’ve accomplished a lot. But don’t be afraid to step away – you can always come back.