Smile, breath and go slowly.” – Thich Naht Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk
I have written earlier about the idea of pause. Taking a moment to breathe, for four seconds if the least. There is increasing evidence mounting that is supporting that the breaks are indeed crucial for our productivity.
May be that is the reason. The 4 Hour Work Week is more effective not because of the 4 hour spent at work, but the remaining hours left un-worked. May be that is the reason by we now have multiple models that propose break in our working routine:
- 25+5 (remember the Pomodoro Technique)
- Rule of 52 and 17 from The Muse
- 90+30 minutes (Tony Schwartz’s The Energy Project)
- 33.33 minutes (copywriter Eugene Schwartz)
- 10 minute (Merlin Mann’s productivity dash)
This brilliant infographics that captures the ‘break’ ideas. May be that is the reason why having more recess at school (following the Finland’s school education model) has become very popular.
Now the Gap!
There is another hypothesis I am proposing. I am calling it the ‘Gap’. It is the moment of intersection when having completed task 1, you are deciding what to do next. If we could raise our awareness during this moment of decision, I believe we can produce impactful results.
Some may prefer to have this planned earlier the day or even in the starting of the week. But in my experience, the ‘executing’ self usually don’t listen to the ‘planning’ self. It is easy to mean to get to something but not actually get to it.
I must confess more than often I just find ways to avoid a planned activity than to actually do it. Simply, a growing amount of resistance is built and procrastination results.
I’m now experimenting with this idea of deciding what to do in the moment, using the Gap.
The gap gives you space to decide what to do next, and why to do it. You are not letting yourself dictated by a to-do list, a schedule (sometimes one do needs to respect that), but letting your moment of awareness now, the readiness and the energy of the given time and space to decide upon what to do next.
Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman, in their latest book, The Daily Stoic, writes about this as the ‘the most important skill of all on how to live a good life:
Try to do the right thing when the situation calls for it… And understand that every small choice and tiny matter is an opportunity to practice these larger principles.”
It turns a highly rational task management to a more intuitive process. It increased my sense of control over what I could do and also what I should not be doing.
If you had the opportunity to try it, do share your experience in the comments below.