We have heard a lot about deep work 👀 lately, and of course, we agree! Deep work is important. We want to focus on one thing at a time to delve deep within our cognitive resources and attention, and get into a state of flow.
But what we don’t hear enough about is how having a good life balance is actually about flexibility. The ability to move between different activities, at times even when you still feel in the flow, rather than remain stuck within the main thing you made progress with that day (possibly work). It is this ability to move to different activities, that represent other parts of your life - going out with friends, switching off for a while, doing some exercise, spending time with your family, switching mindset to another project - that will allow you to do more things well a day, and, over time, have a balanced life.
Of course, it is not simple. Sometimes we remain stuck in an activity that we have achieved a lot in, way beyond the point at which we felt flow or we were being productive. This is, to some degree, natural! We achieved stuff there, so we found the activity rewarding. We stay with it because it is (or has been) rewarding 🏆, rather than start something else which might incur cognitive costs and perhaps a risk of failure, or at least of not achieving reward. 🥇
There is, so to say, a risk of OverFocus sometimes in people’s lives.
Of course, we are not recommending the absolute opposite strategy, constant switching. 🙅♀️Constant switching is no good, because it doesn’t allow us to delve deeper into anything, and most of the time it is about being reactive - to an email received, to a message from a friend, to a moving picture on our screen - it is about chasing some little reward that would give us something new, or make us experience a sense of wonder.
We are talking about the ability to get into flow and deep work, and then switch to a different activity and approach this one with flow and mindfulness. Or, sometimes, know which activities to just get in and out of quickly and with ease, just do them so that they are done, but don’t get immersed or involved beyond a certain point that marks them as “achieved”.
For example, you want to be able to do the dishes 🧽 or laundry 🧺, and perhaps compose a simple meal without having to think much about it.
Hardheaded persistence into trying to get extra results into something that has already provided us with results today (our work) generally just makes us feel more tired. We add another 1 hour of work at the end of our day, but that hour might result in only 3% more results. Doing a new activity - exercising if we haven’t that day or week, brings a much higher return on time investment. Meeting with friends or relaxing allows us to start filling ourselves up earlier that evening, and start with a fuller tank the next day 🌞 than if we would have persisted an extra hour at work.
But the trick is, it doesn’t always feel like it! It feels easier to keep persisting, hoping for more results. It feels easier and it is also glorified in our society to keep persisting long after we have spent our ability to focus, or cognitive potential of that day.
Leaving and recharging 🔋 may feel like “quitting” or “giving up”, when in fact it is the only reasonable way to bring ourselves to a new state of energy levels.
Over time, people that persist FEEL about themselves that they work harder, but don’t necessarily ACHIEVE results that are as good as if they would have recharged.
Also, they don’t enjoy the same QUALITY OF LIFE, because they are constantly busy squeezing the extra juice out of their lemon.
It might make you guilt trip to rest today, to finish earlier, to take care of yourself.
But which do you want to encounter at the end of today? The martyr, out of energy one? Or the creative one, that has a high quality of life, and feels they are taking care of themselves, and liking themselves enough to recharge, and has great ideas and energy tomorrow?
Your choice, your time! ⌛
Here are some missions that might help you become more flexible.