The Pause Paradox: Myths About Productivity We Need To Stop Believing

As an entrepreneur, it can be difficult to balance my work and life. Even though I know that finding harmony between the two will help me both personally and professionally, it is hard to get out of the “always-on” mentality. Especially when it is so easy to convince myself that my activity equals productivity.

In our society, hustling and grinding are considered the “norm,” multitasking is glorified, and distractions run rampant. We are taught that if we are not busy, we are being lazy, unproductive, and procrastinating.

Moreover, hustle culture feeds us myths about productivity that drain our energy, decrease our productivity, and lead to burnout. I have been there, not once, but twice. Burnout is a phenomenon many people experience, it’s not fun, and is typically accompanied by negative symptoms like decreased creativity, poor mindset, and lack of motivation.

This is where the power of the pause comes in. Pausing can be very difficult because of its paradoxical nature. We feel the pressure of hustle culture telling us that if we take breaks and are not constantly working, we are setting ourselves back and procrastinating. However, pressing pause is not akin to procrastination, and if done right, it can actually be productive!

Stop believing these myths

Society loves to tell us that hustling breeds optimization and productivity, but it doesn’t. Here are three myths about productivity and procrastination that you need to stop believing. 

magazines on bed while thinking on myths about productivity

Myth #1: Time management is the key to productivity

This myth isn’t completely false, but time management is only one aspect of something I like to call the three-part formula to increase productivity. This three-part formula consists of time, energy, and attention management.

Time management is important for how we choose to spend our time and how much time we devote to specific tasks each day.

Energy management is centered on recharging our battery, so that we can get more out of our time. Energy is the power source that gives time its value.

Attention management is focused on the decisions we make and the actions we take. This only happens when our decisions and actions are deliberate, attentive, and concentrated.

Only by understanding these levels will you operate in the fullness of your potential and beat procrastination.

Myth #2: Busy = Productive

Our society tries to tell us that busy and productive are the same, but they are two very different concepts. We often feel a lot of pressure to be productive, by being busy and overworked but these approaches actually make us less productive over time.

Being busy is about working harder, being frantic, and fueled by perfectionism. While being productive is about working smarter, being focused, and fueled with purpose and growth.

It is so important to understand the difference between busy and productive. Being busy is deeply rooted in validation and approval seeking from others regarding success, whereas being productive leans into growth in order to be effective and focused in life and business.

Myth #3: If you take breaks, you are procrastinating

On the contrary my dear!

Research suggests that the part of our brain that is responsible for executive functions needs a break! Our prefrontal cortex is in charge of goal management, attention, memory, decision making and so much more. Give your overworked brain a break, so that it can have a chance to refresh and get back to performing more efficiently.

I am going to make this perfectly clear: taking an intentional break or pausing during your workday is not procrastination. The key word here is intentional. Some breaks can recharge and energize us, while others drain and deplete us. The goal is to pause actively, not passively. 

How to pause

Pausing is an intentional shift in our behavior. Intentional pauses throughout your day create meaning where you are able to check-in with yourself and get closer to alignment.

As I mentioned earlier, there are pauses and breaks that recharge us, and others that drain us.

How do you know if your breaks are recharging or draining?

You can ask yourself this question: “Am I utilizing my mind to process too much information around me?” If you said yes, your pause is going to leave you feeling depleted.

Which activities fall into this category? Activities like reading, calling a friend, or scrolling on social media may be great ways to spend your free time, but they are not energizing pauses.

Pauses that will recharge you include meditation, mindfulness, going on a walk, stretching, or literally just sitting in silence for a moment with focused breath.

We can use the word pause as an acronym to help us pause intentionally during the day.  

Pause – Pause whatever it is you are doing.

Assess – Assess how you are feeling, what you are thinking, any bodily sensations you are experiencing, and whatever may be happening in your surroundings (I call these mindfulness check-ins)!

Understand – Understand what it is you need in that moment

Shift – Shift your behavior to accommodate your needs

Express – Express that desired behavior

3 reasons you need to pause

Here are 3 reasons for taking intentional pauses during the day:

1. Recharge your energy.

As I mentioned earlier, energy management is 1/3 of the productivity formula. Taking a break or actively pausing during the workday can immensely boost your productivity.

2. Decrease stress and regulate your emotions effectively!

Increasing your emotional intelligence can be beneficial both personally and professionally. Research has found that taking breaks improves mood, performance, and concentration.

3. Increase work-life alignment.

Finding a balance between work and life may be a difficult task for some, but by practicing intentional pauses throughout the day you are taking steps toward harmony.

It is so important to stop listening to the hustle narrative and give yourself permission to take the breaks you need throughout the day. I promise you that recharging and relaxing by pausing intentionally will help you manage your energy, increase productivity, decrease stress, and increase your work-life alignment.

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