The best way to achieve rapid progress in your profession is to regularly schedule doing nothing. Management is primarily brain work as opposed to hands-on manual labor. The higher the level of the manager, the more significant the brain work becomes. We advance our businesses by the power of our ideas and innovation. One good idea can eliminate countless fruitless meetings, unnecessarily lengthy processes, rapid growth in profit, or an improved capability of staff. Ideas are not the product of brute force labor, but rather emptying of one’s mind.
As managers, we need to be idle with regularity at our best all the time. We cannot improve and succeed if we try to cram every waking hour with work, filling our minds with so much as to crowd out any possibility of new ideas. The most important part of our work ironically is not to work.
Put idleness into your schedule, even during business hours. Yes, that’s right–in the middle of the work day. Take yourself for a walk. Go to an art museum. Sit at a sidewalk cafe and watch people. Clear your mind to make room for new ideas. What is it that you observe? How does what you observe relate to your business and to your life? You may find that while you think your mind is relaxing and idle, after you return to whatever you are working on, suddenly a new approach is clear to you. We may make ourselves idle, but our minds never stop working on our challenges even without our knowing.
My most successful clients schedule idleness into their work without compunction or guilt. They make it a habit. In fact, the most successful managers I know work the fewest hours. You can too as long as you have the courage to do so.