There is one school of thought that any activity that is not taking you closer to your goals is a waste of time. To a certain extent I agree, but I also understand that their are many activities that may appear to be a waste of time on the surface that are in fact helping you achieve your goals indirectly.
One such activity for me is reading fiction. You may be asking how as a software developer and entrepreneur my outputs can be increased by reading stories that are completely unrelated to my work? The answer is simple, reading is my disconnect, reading is my off switch.
We’ve all been there, it’s late at night, and after hours of work you’ve gone into that goggle eyed state of monitor hypoxia, you’ve been going around in circles for an hour before convincing yourself it’s time for bed (a decision a properly functioning mind would have made hours earlier). It’s 2am and your know you’ll be awaken an 7.30. A wealth of experience in burning the candle at both ends tells you that any less than five hours sleep means tomorrow is going to be a struggle. Yet despite exhaustion, you lay in bed struggling to keep your eyes closed, whilst your mind is still frantically turning over the days work in preparation for tomorrows assault.
Enter the disconnect. A disconnect is anything that can quickly snap your mind out of work mode and allow it to wind down in a controlled fashion, reading fiction is the perfect disconnect.
Reading a book is one of the few things in this world that requires your full attention and can’t be multi-tasked with other activities. Reading fiction with it’s imagery, emotion and make believe immediately starts utilising the areas of your mind that have been idling during your over extended hackathon while the parts that were red lining are given a timeout. Disconnects are vitally important in maintaining sustainable productivity and avoiding burnout.
I don’t just read fiction before bed, anytime I feel myself reaching the point of mental exhaustion, I walk away from the computer, find a quiet space and begin reading until it’s passed. There are many other forms of disconnects from brisk walks to meditation, but reading is the one that I personally find most effective.
Since the realisation that reading stories is not a luxury that eats into my productive time, but is a disconnect that indirectly increases it, I have started reading A LOT, I now get through two or three books a week! My Kindle is now my number one productivity toy and it goes with me everywhere, always preloaded with two yet to be read books. I must now be one of Amazon’s top customers!
If you want to get the most out each and every day it’s vitally important that you discover your own disconnect and begin using it as an important tool in your personal productivity arsenal.