Achieve More and Live Better By Doing Less

How Taking Your Time and Taking Time Out Is The Most Productive Thing You'll Do This Year

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Can you really achieve more by doing less? Yes, if you take a leaf out of educators in Finland's books. Students and teachers in Finland take a 15-minute break after every 45 minutes of instruction. This has been the norm in Finland since the 1960s. Consequently, both are more focused, attentive and productive. During these moments of free play, the children “not only rest and recharge—they also learn to cooperate, communicate, and compromise, all skills they need to succeed academically as well as in life,” says teacher Tim Walker.

The same goes for adults too. Rushing from place to place, from deadline to deadline, constantly switched-on and rarely switching-off is a stressed out existence. Not only is rushing detrimental to us, it can adversely affect our children too. Most parents find themselves saying, 'no we don't have time' or 'hurry up' countless times a day.

We berate our children who are simply (and slowly) enjoying life! We have an agenda to stick to, we are frantic, distracted and constantly hurrying through life. Yet, by taking our time, by taking time out of our busy schedules to play, to notice and generally not be so hell bent on deadlines and targets, we can live a happier and, ironically, more focused, creative and successful existence.

By switching off from our screens and our smartphones at regular intervals and tuning in to our thoughts and the quiet inbetween them, we can regain focus and get our creative juices flowing. By taking the time to notice nature, by removing the words 'hurry up' from our parental vocab, we can reap the benefits of improved productivity and we can enjoy living in the process.

“Sometimes you will never realise the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory,” Anon.

If you are rushing you are :

  • More likely to fall; to trip yourself up, make mistakes and sabotage your achievements.

  • Less likely to notice something which could positively affect your day.

  • Less able to gain a clarity of thought that will enable you to make the right choices throughout that day.

Conversely, when you slow down or, at the very least, take a break in between rushing, you are:

  • More able to stimulate your creativity.

  • More able to foster positive emotion by awakening the senses.

  • Less likely to miss out on the sonic and visual delights of nature as you can stop to tune in to the sound of the wind in the trees and watch birds in the sky.

  • More able to practice mindfulness and meditation.

When we slow down we step out of the (rat) race and stop living in the past or future, which makes us more able to enjoy now: the most important time.

Rest is productive. By stopping you gain clarity and focus. With clarity comes control over moving in the right direction on your own terms, and with clarity comes clearer and better decision making that is aligned and in tune with the real authentic you.

Sometimes you reach your goal and it doesn't quite live up to expectations. Yet you spent all that time striving and stressing and trying so hard... if you could just reach that target, achieve that goal, become that person... you'd be happier/more fulfilled/better. So surely there's a better way?

Successful focused people have proven time and time again that success can be found in the stillness; in those quiet slow-motion moments within your fast-paced day in your whirlwind life. When you walk slowly through local woodland and parks or down country lanes, you enable yourself to create ideas and come up with solutions to your problems, you replace intensity with intuition. When you step away from your proactivity you can tap into the power of your mind which is as equally gratifying as achieving goals.

Five Ways To Stop Missing Moments and Become More Focused

Consider creating some new habits. Step away from that perpetual to do list and your work space just for a moment.

  1. Take a 15 minute breaks every hour or 90 minutes. If being desk bound stifles creativity, getting outdoors, a good walk, a dance, a shower or a stretch rejuvenates it. Use the rest of the time to focus on the tasks that are most likely to help you get those results you crave; the breaks in between will enhance your creativity and boost your productivity.

  2. Start your journeys earlier or wake up earlier to give you more time to do what needs to be done to get to places you need to get to and do the stuff you need to do. You won't have to rush, you'll be able to take time to notice and be more present.

  3. Go to bed earlier. You'll be more inclined to get up earlier if you do and the more sleep you've had, the better equipped you'll be for the day ahead.

  4. Put less on your to do list and focus on the stuff you enjoy doing. Commit to doing one or two tasks and taking one or two small steps towards your goals each day, then release them and trust that you'll get there.

  5. Become a noticer. Try it; practice noticing more and see what impact it has. Replace rushing with noticing; replace striving with living.

Take your time and give yourself the best gift of all – time to live, time to stop missing moments, for those moments are your life.

Cheryl Rickman is author of The Flourish Handbook and creator of The 30 Day Flourish Challenge. On Facebook you can find her via Flourish and Climbing Trees: Get Families Outdoors More.

Follow Cheryl on Twitter via @theflourishers.

Cheryl Rickman

Flourisher, Ghostwriter, WellBeing Ambassador & Author of The Flourish Handbook, -

Aiming to make the world a little less frowny and a lot more appreciative, positive & resilient


Go to the profile of Joanna Codrai
over 7 years ago
Easier said than done -but definitely agree!