Are you tired of the endless pursuit of productivity, feeling like you’re constantly chasing an unattainable goal? Do you find yourself sacrificing your well-being and rest in the name of getting more done? In a society that glorifies “hustle culture” and non-stop productivity, it’s easy to forget the importance of taking a break and recharging. However, studies have shown that incorporating rest and relaxation into our routine is crucial for maintaining motivation and increasing productivity in the long run. In this article, we’ll delve into the delicate balance between productivity and rest, drawing insights from James Clear’s “Atomic Habits,” and explore how all this can impact motivation when pursuing goals like embarking on a post-graduate program.
One effective tool to help gauge our productivity is the humble to-do list. May it be a written note or a digital list. While it may seem like a simple solution, creating a to-do list can have a profound impact on our motivation and productivity. Think of it in terms of brain RAM memory (short-term memory), when we have something to do that we can’t tackle right away we have two options, either we make a mental note and try to remember it or we jot it down on a piece of paper or a digital to-do-list. However, trying to make a mental note takes up brain RAM memory, leaving less space for other important things. However, if we write it down we liberate brain capacity and can feel relieved of the task because we have a plan to tackle it at some point.
However, it’s important to approach this tool in a way that balances both how much work we have left to do, and how much work we have already done. According to “Atomic Habits,” our brains are wired to seek out completion and closure. This means that when we focus on what we’ve already accomplished, our brains may trick us into feeling satisfied and less motivated to continue working. On the other hand, when we focus on what still needs to be done, our brains are more likely to feel a sense of urgency and motivation to complete the remaining tasks.
To-do lists can also help us break down larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks. By breaking down a large project into smaller, actionable steps, we can feel a greater sense of progress and accomplishment with each task we complete. This can help prevent us from feeling overwhelmed or discouraged by the enormity of the task at hand.
However, it’s important to approach to-do lists with a level of flexibility. While they can be a great tool for productivity, they can also become a source of stress and anxiety if we become too fixated on completing every item on the list. That is why it is important to plan both for the tasks due and for the things that bring us relaxation in order to feel more balanced.
One strategy is to focus on creating small, daily habits that prioritize rest and relaxation. For example, you could make a habit of taking a 15 minute break every hour to stretch, meditate, or simply take a walk outside. You could also make a habit of turning off your phone and computer at a certain time each evening to ensure that you get enough rest. This is important because if we don’t allow ourselves the space and time to rest and recharge, we may find ourselves burning out and feeling less motivated in the long run.
In conclusion, prioritizing rest and relaxation is crucial for achieving sustainable success, alongside productivity. By implementing the principles of atomic habits into our daily routines and using tools such as to-do-lists to optimize cognitive resources, we can establish positive habits that foster productivity, motivation and well-being. Therefore, the next time you find yourself pushing too hard to be productive, remember that taking time to rest and recharge is just as important for achieving success and tackling challenging endeavors such as pursuing a post-graduate education while preserving our mental health and overall wellness.
Participant of International MBA, class of 2023
Morgane Borzée is a highly skilled entrepreneur and user experience designer, whose work is deeply rooted in her passion for understanding the impact of technology on mental health and well-being. She founded FriendlyBit, a UX agency and has worked in the education industry for several years. Morgane holds an MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons Design School in New York, and is completing an MBA at EADA Business School. She is currently in the process of developing a groundbreaking start-up idea focused on emotional intelligence and well-being, which promises to be a game-changer in this space.