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Why leisure is the new productivity and how to reclaim your leisure time

“Big Ideas for a New America” at CNN.com
Article/Op-Ed

Jane Greenway Carr

Jan. 13, 2015

From Leonardo da Vinci to Bertrand Russell, great artists and thinkers have made a practice of what we instinctively know: our greatest ideas often occur when we stop looking for them. As Brigid Schulte writes on CNN.com this week, “Russell, along with scholars like Josef Pieper…thought that it is in moments of leisure that civilization gets created. Both were extraordinarily productive, despite their call for what may today be seen as slacking.” Schulte is a former New America Fellow, staff writer at the Washington Post, and author of the best-selling book Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time. Her CNN piece, “Leisure Is the New Productivity,” is the second in the series, “Big Ideas for a New America,” which spotlights experts’ solutions to shared challenges.

Schulte tracks the evolution of leisure from a status symbol for the wealthy in the early 20th century to a labor practice mandated by Henry Ford to what it is today for many workers—a fleeting dream amidst the grind. Whether you’re an employee in a white collar or low-wage job, chances are you either work more hours or have less control over your schedule than your counterparts in other countries. The U.S. is the only advanced economy with no national vacation policy, and as Schulte points out, our cultural attitude that leisure equals laziness is flat-out wrong. Countries like Denmark and Norway with mandated paid leave and vacation and cultures more accepting of leisure consistently beat us in international comparisons of GDP per hours worked.

Schulte points to Richard Feynman as an example of innovative thinkers who demonstrate the power of leisure moments to produce “a-ha” breakthroughs: “Feynman idly watched students goofing off spinning plates in the cafeteria and began making calculations of the wobbles, “for the fun of it,” which led to his developing the “Feynman diagrams” to explain quantum electrodynamics and ultimately resulted in his Nobel Prize.” Research shows that inspiration strikes when we take breaks, not when we’re hunched over our laptops or pushing to crank out overtime. And these ideas don’t appear like magic—there’s science to explain it. Neuroscientists are finding that when we’re idle, our minds are more active and connect parts of the brain that don’t typically communicate. We actually think more innovatively in these moments, says Schulte. In an economy like ours powered by knowledge and ideas, says Schulte, we can’t afford to ignore the scientific, economic, and cultural evidence that “dialing down on overwork” will help us be the most productive and healthy nation we can be.

Premise:

We live in a world where there is a relentless focus on improving productivity and efficiency. We want to do more of everything and do it quick. There is a spurt of books on how to improve our productivity. There are numerous blog posts about hacks to improve productivity. Despite all of this, we are living in a world where there is a minuscule percent of people who are able to accomplish much more than the rest of the population. There is a dearth of good leaders – both in business and public life. In this blog post, I am trying to explore what is amiss and what can we do about this.

Why do we want to improve our productivity:

While everyone wants to improve their ability to produce more, most forget the reason why they want to be more productive. The reasons could be different for different people:

  • For some, it is about accomplishing more so that they can rise in the corporate ladder.
  • For some, it could be about completing their work so that they can find some leisure time to spend with family, friends, or with themselves.
  • For some, it could be about a pursuit of constant improvement.

The point is that we need to know what is our individual reason to want to improve our productivity. This way, we are intentional about what we are trying to achieve by working on our productivity.

The one thing a car needs to speed, is good breaks.

I read somewhere that, the very existence of breaks in an automobile is what enables us to drive fast. If there were no breaks, our ability to go fast and still stay alive, would drastically diminish. A very similar thing happens when it comes to productivity. The very presence of leisure time and breaks from work, enable us to continue to stay relevant and productive.

Taking a break from work regularly allows your body and mind to recuperate and refresh. This also allows our sub-conscious mind to work on things that we are struggling with, in the background. This is process of sub-conscious work has led to many a discoveries and breakthrough thinking moments. This is even better if these breaks are fun.

In my opinion, taking a fun break regularly does offer us the following benefits:

Helps us manage our stress:

It is well-known fact that we can be much more productive if we operate under optimal stress – not too much and not too less. Taking regular time off for leisure activities can help us reduce and manage our stress levels such that we are able to maintain the balance and thereby enabling us to be extremely productive.

Helps us become creative:

Fun breaks allow the conscious mind to engage with something while allowing the sub-conscious mind to continue to work in the background on the topics that we are struggling with. This specifically is helpful in creating connections that can help address the topic that we want to address. This is so due to the fact that when we are focused on a particular topic, we are too focused and at that level of focus, it is difficult to find connections. To find these connections we need to take a 50000 ft view instead of the 100 Ft view we take when we are focused on the task.

Helps us remain healthy:

Breaks are important to regulate our emotions. We are all emotional animals and it is important to feel the full range of emotions in order to be healthy and productive. Continuous focus on work alone makes us miss our other emotions. This will either take a toll on our physical or emotional health. So, to remain healthy, we need to take regular breaks. The more fun they are, the better they are.

Improves the ability to focus:

If there is one thing that can have a significant impact on our productivity, it is focus. Taking regular leisure breaks helps us to build our focus muscles. Just like you need to give your body some rest after a rigorous exercise regimen before the next bout of exercise is critical to build our stamina and muscles, frequent leisure breaks allow for our mind to relax before the next bout of focused work. These breaks allow us to train our mind to become ultra focused, which in turn leads to a significant improvement in productivity.

In Conclusion:

I have found that a small 10 min break every couple of hours of intense work helps me remain creative, engaged, focused and ultra productive at my work. I have used this to be able to maintain this blog, a podcast, a video channel and write a book, all while still having a full-time job, where I excel.

I do need to work on my private life, where as a father, husband and son, I haven’t taken so many fun breaks as I would have liked to. But now that I am intentional about it, I am sure that this will change as well.

Question that you need to answer are the following:

  1. What is your purpose to improve your productivity?
  2. What is the frequency of leisure breaks you need? Is that daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual?
  3. Are you integrating these in your calendar and plan for them? If not, please find sometime and do plan.

This is one topic that is critical and needs all our attention. So, pls stop doing whatever you are doing and answer the above questions. Be intentional about your quest for productivity.

Why leisure is the new productivity and how to reclaim your leisure time

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Why leisure is the new productivity and how to reclaim your leisure time

For the past 10 years I’ve been a student of productivity. In high school I managed to make the honor roll while running a small business. In college I became a master of acing tests without actually learning the material (the trick is to figure out what the professor will ask and then memorize the necessary information). When I started my second business in the heart of the recession I knew that I had to be a productivity ninja if I wanted a fighting chance.

I tried everything. I experimented with virtually every legal stimulant, used computer programs to prevent distractions, tried to check my email only once a day, followed GTD to a T… the list goes on.

Through it all, I learned that there are only two tricks you need to achieve maximum productivity.

But first it’s important to understand that if you’re not feeling great you’re not going to be able to hit maximum productivity. Take good care of yourself. It’s the foundation for everything.

With that in mind, here are the only two tricks you’ll ever need to reach maximum productivity:

Plot your day

Most of us go to work and start working. Our time is spent either reacting to work as it comes in (emails, calls, assignments from the boss, etc) or working on things that are due soon.

Working this way is very haphazard. It forces your focus to flicker, and it doesn’t guarantee that you’re dedicating time to the really important things, especially the important stuff that isn’t due soon.

Instead of diving right in, the first thing I do when I get to my desk is I open up a word document, look at my to-dos and emails, and then figure out how to fit everything in. I literally write out my schedule for the day. My schedule for today looks like this:

10:00 – 10:10: Plotting the day

10:10 – 11:10: Blogging (edit and post Necessary Suffering, write LifeHack article on productivity)

11:10 – 12:10: Work on new white paper

12:10 – 12:30: Email

12:30 – 1:00: Grocery (spinach, garbanzos, canned tomato, onion)

1:00 – 1:45: Lunch with Will from Ingenuity Prep

1:45 – 2:00 Prep for call about guest lecture at Georgetown

2:00 – 3:45 Call with Jay about guest lecture

3:45 – 4:00 Prep for call about upcoming speech at BSU

3:00 – 4:00 Call with team at BSU

Writing a schedule for the day keeps you focused and productive, and it ensures that all the important things are getting your attention. Spend ten minutes in the morning plotting your day and then stick to it.

Carve out time each week to reflect and calibrate.

If you really want to be productive throughout the day, one of the most important things to understand is how your daily work fits into the bigger picture of your work and life.

Most of us are so busy that we don’t bother reflecting. That’s a mistake. Nothing is more important than reflecting on your work and your life – how else would you know that you’re on the right track?

Find a few hours each week to reflect. I use Fridays from 3-5. No real work gets done at this time anyways.

The questions I ask myself:

  • What went well this week? How can I carry that into next week?
  • What went poorly this week? How can I prevent that next week?
  • Did this week fit into my bigger vision? If not, how can I change that next week?
  • What are the 3-5 most critical things for me to be working on next week?

All that is left for you to do is make sure you are improving a little bit each week and that your work ties into your bigger vision. An easy way to do this is to schedule time each day for the tasks that you have predetermined to be the most important.

We all want to achieve maximum productivity and efficiency. Doing so requires blending our day-to-day with the big picture and using our time thoughtfully. Starting your day by plotting how you’ll use your time, and spending an hour or two each week calibrating and reflecting, will enable you to hit maximum productivity.

(Photo credit: Stitched panoramas via Shutterstock)

At work, our days are pretty structured. We know what we’re supposed to be doing most of the time.

At home, though, things are looser. And our leisure time—the portion of the day that’s really, truly ours—tends to be the least structured of all.

This may seem like a good thing, but it can be a big problem. Without a plan, we tend toward passive leisure activities: activities that entertain us without requiring much physical or mental effort, like watching TV and browsing social media.
A little passive leisure is fine, but many passive leisure activities are engineered to be addictive. They can grow to devour nearly all of our free time, leaving our lives a bit empty.

On the other hand, we have active leisure activities: those activities that require substantial mental and/or physical energy, like exercise, reading, meditation, cooking, writing, making music, gardening, and many more. Active leisure activities can sound overwhelming—who has the energy to run five miles or read Infinite Jest after a full day’s work?—but counter-intuitively, they tend to create energy. Active leisure activities help to give our lives meaning, too. See, we think we’ll be happy doing nothing, but it’s progress—not endless relaxation—that creates happiness.

But active leisure won’t happen without a plan. So if you want to use your free time productively, to make progress on projects that are important to you, don’t be afraid to plan it.

And there’s no better time to start than now.

At work, our days are pretty structured. We know what we’re supposed to be doing most of the time.

At home, though, things are looser. And our leisure time—the portion of the day that’s really, truly ours—tends to be the least structured of all.

This may seem like a good thing, but it can be a big problem. Without a plan, we tend toward passive leisure activities: activities that entertain us without requiring much physical or mental effort, like watching TV and browsing social media.
A little passive leisure is fine, but many passive leisure activities are engineered to be addictive. They can grow to devour nearly all of our free time, leaving our lives a bit empty.

On the other hand, we have active leisure activities: those activities that require substantial mental and/or physical energy, like exercise, reading, meditation, cooking, writing, making music, gardening, and many more. Active leisure activities can sound overwhelming—who has the energy to run five miles or read Infinite Jest after a full day’s work?—but counter-intuitively, they tend to create energy. Active leisure activities help to give our lives meaning, too. See, we think we’ll be happy doing nothing, but it’s progress—not endless relaxation—that creates happiness.

But active leisure won’t happen without a plan. So if you want to use your free time productively, to make progress on projects that are important to you, don’t be afraid to plan it.

And there’s no better time to start than now.

A neglected component of the good life

Posted May 20, 2016

Why leisure is the new productivity and how to reclaim your leisure time

There is an entire industry dedicated to “getting things done.” I’ve found some very useful ideas and practical tips that have made me more efficient, productive, and better at my work. However, Josef Pieper asks in Leisure: The Basis of Culture,

“Is there a sphere of human activity, one might even say of human existence, that does not need to be justified by inclusion in a five-year plan and its technical organization? Is there such a thing, or not? (p. 38)”

There is such a thing. Many have exaggerated the value of work, and forgotten about something else we need for true happiness, namely, leisure. But what is leisure? The sense of the term here is not vacation, being idle, nor is it rest for the sake of returning to work refreshed. Rather, leisure is an openness towards and contemplation of the deeper truths of life. Leisure requires a calmness, an inner stillness, and I think it is also in part constituted by these.

Leisure, according to Pieper, is a mental and spiritual attitude. It is not laziness, but rather an inner silence that enables one to see reality. One is able to apprehend the world, to encounter parts of reality that we often miss in our daily toil. Leisure is also a “contemplative celebration,” a harmony between oneself and the rest of creation. Finally, it is not a mere break from work. Rather, it is done for its own sake. It affirms us in our humanity and is part of what it means to flourish as a human being, to be whole.

My aim is not to give practical tips on leisure, but to understand it and motivate us to find a place for it in our lives. But for those wanting to do so, leisure can include include reflection upon nature and its beauty, meditative contemplation of the character of God, focused reflection on the nature and value of a virtue such as compassion, or a thoughtful reflection on what we are as human beings.

A life with this type of leisure will be fuller and happier; most importantly, it will be more truly human.

Add to Mendeley

The American Nurses Association Code of Ethics for Nurses states “the nursing profession is committed to promoting health, welfare, and safety of all people.” 1 Nurses play an important role in promoting the health of others, yet studies indicate that many do not incorporate healthy behaviors into their own lives. 2 In fact, a recent article in highlighted the need for nurses to practice self-care to improve their personal health and wellness, which can contribute to greater satisfaction in both their work and personal lives. 3 The first author of this paper (Tamara) is a registered nurse and an administrator in nursing education, whereas the second author (DJ) is an interdisciplinary social scientist whose work focuses on various forms of leisure. We have teamed up here to discuss the importance of leisure among nurses. Healthy leisure is important among patients, yet it also remains beneficial for professionals as well.

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Note: The authors declare no financial interests or potential conflicts of interest.

Tamara Rose, MSN, RN, is PhD student at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho and a clinical assistant professor and campus associate dean at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon.

DJ Williams, PhD, is director of social work and assistant professor of sociology and social work at Idaho State University.

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  4. Benefits of Cheerleading for Girls
  5. Activities for Mentally Challenged Adults
  • Physical Benefits of Recreation
  • Leisure Lowers Stress and Depression
  • Improve Your Quality of Life
  • Recreational Therapy

In the 1950s and 1960s, activities such as horseback trail riding, skiing, snowmobiling and taking a day hike were among some of the popular choices among outdoor enthusiasts. While these are still enjoyed, people have been leaning toward less vigorous physical activities since that time, according to H. Ken Cordell of the U.S. Forest Service. Yet incorporating physical activity into your leisure and recreation activities is an ideal way to fit more exercise into your schedule — as well as address your mental wellness.

Physical Benefits of Recreation

Taking part in recreational activities, particularly outdoors, can improve your physical wellness. In fact, people who frequently take advantage of park activities have fewer doctor visits, lower body mass indexes and lower systolic blood pressures than those who don’t, according to Dr. Laura L. Payne of the University of Illinois. A 2005 California State Parks report also highlights that outdoor recreation provides an excellent opportunity to increase exercise 3. It cites a 2001 study revealing that the availability of recreational facilities in a location impacts the amount of physical activity in which residents participate.

  • Taking part in recreational activities, particularly outdoors, can improve your physical wellness.
  • A 2005 California State Parks report also highlights that outdoor recreation provides an excellent opportunity to increase exercise 3.

Leisure Lowers Stress and Depression

Social & Emotional Benefits of Regular Exercise

Mental wellness is an important part of your overall health and can impact your physical well-being. Participating in leisure and recreation activities can help you better manage stress and reduce depression. Leisure provides you the chance to find balance in your life; it also puts you in control of how you’re spending your time, which is an important consideration because you may feel overwhelmed by obligations. Taking part in leisure activities as a family is also beneficial for your kids because you’re modeling healthy ways to handle stress and emotions. Participating in leisure activities regularly reduces depression; in fact, just thinking about past outdoor recreation experiences can improve mood, according to the 2005 California State Parks report 3.

  • Mental wellness is an important part of your overall health and can impact your physical well-being.
  • Taking part in leisure activities as a family is also beneficial for your kids because you’re modeling healthy ways to handle stress and emotions.

Improve Your Quality of Life

Finding balance is also a reason why leisure and recreation can enhance your quality of life. Physical recreation, in particular, is associated with improved self-esteem. In addition, you’re more likely to feel satisfied about your life when you regularly take part in recreation activities. This has significant implications for your mental health and, in turn, your physical health. In fact, 90 percent of respondents in a 2000 American Recreation Coalition study reported being satisfied with their health and fitness. In contrast, 60 percent of those who didn’t take part in such activity reported not being satisfied with their health and fitness.

All work and no play surely makes Jack a dull boy! It’s time you spiced up your life by indulging in some leisure activities. Why is it so important, you ask? This Buzzle article explains why.

All work and no play surely makes Jack a dull boy! It’s time you spiced up your life by indulging in some leisure activities. Why is it so important, you ask? This Buzzle article explains why.

“Those who decide to use leisure as a means of mental development, who love good music, good books, good pictures, good plays, good company, good conversation ― what are they? They are the happiest people in the world.” ― William Lyon Phelps

When was the last time you had time for yourself doing things that you really enjoy? This is something you probably may not even remember, owing to the fast-paced life. With work taking priority in the lives of many, people have very little time for any kind of leisure activities. No matter how much you are busy with work, there comes a time when your body and mind start signaling to you for some much-needed break, so much so that you feel like running away to some isolated, quite, and far off island. And that’s when you should definitely listen to both and take a break from the daily hustle-bustle.

Would you like to write for us? Well, we’re looking for good writers who want to spread the word. Get in touch with us and we’ll talk.

You’ll feel refreshed and rejuvenated, and will be able to work better and with more efficiency after you get back. But before doing so, you need to understand why is it so essential to take a break every once in a while. If you haven’t yet thought about it, then it’s time you do a reality check.

What is the Meaning of Leisure?
When one speaks about leisure time, it simply means a period which you spend doing things other than your work. Leisure activities are meant to de-stress a person and divert his/her attention away from work. This could mean any type of recreational activity. The primary aim is to give you sense of self.

Importance of Leisure
Leisure activities are important to bring about a positive flow of energy in a person. These activities help to refresh the mind. There are various recreational activities one can choose from to suit individual tastes. At the end of the day, the increased positivity that you experience only reflects the importance of recreation in your life. The following points will help you understand the importance of leisure time.

Physical and Health Benefits
Thanks to their busy schedule, people, these days, hardly find time for some leisure. Absence of any physical activities may trigger some serious health issues, especially obesity and heart-related problems. Indulging in some recreational or leisure activities will help you to improve your fitness levels. Take up your favorite sport and have fun while you forget all the work-related tensions.

Reduces Stress and Depression
Well, most of you would agree that taking some time out for yourself and enjoying your favorite hobby or sport is a great stress buster, isn’t it? Too much of work pressure and the pressure to reach daily targets can leave a person completely stressed and mentally tired. So, take some time out from your busy schedule and get yourself enrolled in some sports, dance classes, or whichever activity you love. This will not only rejuvenate you, but also help you think and work in a better way.

Improves the Quality of Life
Doing some activities that you love also boosts your self-esteem to some extent. This helps you feel more satisfied with the kind of life that you may be living. It also ensures better functioning of the body as well as mind. Moreover, getting yourself involved in some group activities also connects you with people and brings you closer to them. Spending some time with friends can be a great stress buster.

Aids Positivity
Pampering yourself or indulging in some physical activity that refreshes you also brings positivity in your life. Daily work stress tends to fill one with frustration or negativity. You tend to think and work better if you are positive enough. It teaches you to live your life more enthusiastically and also gives you a chance to rediscover yourself.

Examples of Leisure Activities
There are two types of leisure activities you can choose from. Active leisure activities include energetic activities that even require one to use mental strength. You can learn to dance, listen to music, go hiking, camping, fishing, swimming, or even try adventure sports. Rock climbing, skiing and surfing are equally popular as leisure activities for those who crave for adventure.

Would you like to write for us? Well, we’re looking for good writers who want to spread the word. Get in touch with us and we’ll talk.

Passive leisure activities are all about relaxation and can even mean watching a movie with friends, reading, taking a stroll in a park or on the beach, or even visiting a spa. Even if you want to sit at home and do nothing, it’s completely okay! That’s just another way to spend some quality time with yourself or your family. It will help strengthen the bond with your family members.

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and take some time off from your work. Don’t wait for the right time. You may loose out on few doses of laughter and fun. If you can’t find time on a weekly basis, then make sure you give yourself at least 1-2 days of exclusive me-time in a month. It is a proven fact that a refreshed mind and body is always more productive than one that works 24X7. So, stay healthy and enjoy your life to the fullest!