December 23, 2013, 12:08 PM — The analysis comes straight from Harvard Business Review, therefore it is unimpeachable, absolutely correct and something you must do.
Leadership professor and author Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries tells HBR that today's professionals need blocks of time in which they do nothing. Call it slacking off, unplugging, downtime, what have you, you need to do it, Kets de Vries says.
"I have learned from experience that the most effective executives realize that doing nothing is good for their mental health," he writes. "Turning down the volume on life can be extremely beneficial and brings them to regions of the mind that they are otherwise busily avoiding."
The author says it is in this time when you're "doing nothing" that your brain sparks and unconsciously finds solutions to the problems you're trying to solve.
"While they’re in these regions of the mind, they’re more likely to generate novel ideas," he notes. "By inducing unconscious thought through reflection they modify the very nature of their search for innovative solutions to complex issues. They understand that doing nothing is the best path to productivity."
Lets repeat the last sentence for emphasis: "doing nothing is the best path to productivity."
It makes sense, think about your own experience. Have you ever tried to solve a problem, become frustrated and given up, only to have the solution pop into your brain later when you weren't thinking about the issue?
Kets de Vries says the inability to just "be" stems from modern work culture, with technology only making it worse.
"In our cyber age doing nothing has become almost impossible with all the distractions our iPhones and iPads provide," he notes. "More and more, the balance between activity and inactivity has become seriously out of sync. But slacking off — making a conscious effort not to be busy — may be the best thing we can do for our brain’s health. It is the incubator for future bursts of creativity."
Click below to read more, then unplug.