When we’re committed to finishing an important task by a deadline, working non-stop seems like the responsible option, but it isn’t always the most productive. This week, I took a whole 7 days off from my dissertation. I couldn’t look at it anymore. The words were starting to blur together and I was not making the progress that needed to happen.
Coming back to it after the hiatus has been a wonderful experience. Here is what we can all gain from backing away from a task for a while.
It’s much easier to work on a project when we’re excited and motivated to do so. Unfortunately, we quickly lose that motivation when we allow ourselves to burn out. If you’re concerned that backing away from a task will cause your progress to slow, consider the time you’ll gain in the long run from your ability to work faster when you start back up again with renewed motivation from the time away.
If you’re stuck in a rut with a project, stepping away can allow your perspective to shift as you suddenly see things differently and come up with new ideas. Creativity research suggests that time away is a critical step in achieving an “a ha!” moment of creative brilliance. It’s why some of our best ideas happen in the shower, or just as we’re about to fall asleep.
Time away allows us to see mistakes we may have missed before. When we’re too close to a project, we start to gloss over mistakes and only see what we want to see. Don’t allow your proximity to a task to interfere with your ability to look at it objectively.
Time away doesn’t always seem like the best option, but I was so glad I stepped back this week. What can you step back from that will help your long term productivity?