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If you want to be more productive, waste the time

Here's a confession:I'm a literature teacher who has trouble reading. It's not that the words on the page have lost their meaning, but that my ability to maintain focus seems to slip away. My students also seem to experience this phenomenon. "Professor? they will ask. "How should I do my reading? »
I did not have this problem before, nor did my students. What I prescribed to them (and myself) was relatively simple:“Put your phone away when you read. You are not that busy. »
Nevertheless, the beeps and pops of our electronic lives tell us otherwise. We live in a world of time tracking apps, hacks, and tips. In any given office or cafe, you might hear a cacophony of alerts, Twitter tweets, and the frantic tapping of fingers tapping out an email or additional text in order to check that last thing off the to-do list. We're so busy , our devices tell us. Best not to leave a single step or typed word uncounted.

Applications in our lives tend to emphasize success at the expense of creativity. After all, how does a phone know if an idea is truly original?

Even with the trend of low-tech newsletters and top manuscript journals, the effect is the same:we're becoming more and more micromanagers these days, dividing our time into smaller and smaller chunks in the name of progress and productivity.
Related: Surprising Secrets to Boosting Productivity
But at what cost?
By now, most people have heard of psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's research into flow states as the most conducive to a deep creative work. He describes a state of flux as a state in which people become so engrossed in their work that "nothing else seems to matter." It is in such states that innovative problem solving takes place and great ideas are born. However, what we have taken less seriously as a tech-obsessed culture is the extent to which electronic productivity tools and the hectic pace of work activity can erode our ability to engage in this most productive work.
If you're very lucky, your career affords you occasional opportunities to do the kind of work that can be deeply absorbing, that sucks you in as you get going, that engages you so much that the minutes and hours slip away. This type of deep focus, which doesn't care about the minute increment, can seem almost extravagant in our age of the Pomodoro technique (setting alarms in 25-minute increments to increase productivity and hyper focus). But it's also incredibly valuable and worth protecting.

“Curiosity is open and playful, while drive is serious, competitive and achievement-oriented.”

Most of us work in fields that require some measure of our production, whether on a weekly or quarterly basis. So, a riddle. As business school professors Forbes and Domm point out in their 2004 article, it can often seem that creative flow and task-oriented efficiency are at odds:“Curiosity is open and playful, while training is serious, competitive and focused on success". write the authors.
Applications in our lives tend to emphasize the latter (achievement) at the expense of the former (creativity). After all, how does a phone know if an idea is truly original? How can a step counter tell if the walk was a step in which the walker had a brilliant glimpse?
Forbes and Domm suggest ways managers can incorporate flow states into work of employees by emphasizing the intrinsically motivating factors of a task, including employee independence and choice, as well as emphasizing the challenge involved in the task.
Related : 6 Ways to Find Pure, Uninterrupted Flow
For those who work alone and in more creative fields, however, it might be important to create strategies to protect the flow states in which we lose track of those seconds. and minutes that our apps are so happy to report. Here are three small tweaks to reduce tech disruption and recapture flow.
1. Release your inner child.
Work one day or one afternoon a week on paper and away from any timing device. Even better if you can work in nature or solitude. Be childish and spread out on the floor, or use different colored pens or markers. Give yourself the opportunity to make your work an immersive sensory experience, with the tactile experience of moving index cards, spreading your ideas in the physical space to look at them. Go ahead.
2. Waste time.
If giving away an entire day this way sounds scary, set a specific amount of time you can "waste". Use a timer and decide that whatever happens in the hour or two you set for your creative task will be fine. Do not look at the timer when working. Stop worrying about tracking your time knowing the buzzer will let you know when you're done.
3. Cash-in technology.
Store your phone physically, whether in a drawer or zipped into your purse or briefcase. Disable sound notifications on your computer. Use an internet limiting tool like freedom, self-control, or focus. As the names of these apps suggest, these products limit the user's access to distracting and disruptive sites where creators so often go when ideas are difficult to implement, rather than staying at the moment of creative problem solving.
At the end of the day, we do our best work and are happiest in the stream. It might not always sound like productivity, but in a world where everyone is obsessively measuring and counting, maybe wasting time is just the right kind of difference.
En relationship: 3 Productivity Habits of Successful People