by Laura Stack
The Productivity Pro
It may seem a tad paradoxical, but you can't be productive if you don't know how to relax. Leisure activities and relaxation like reading, talking, playing games, and other non-gadget pastimes can reduce your stress levels and increase your energy.
1. Step off the merry-go-round. If you've recently undergone a particularly busy spell, you may be addicted to going full-throttle. When your mind is sick and tired of working, but your body can't stop, you need to slam on the brakes.
2. Understand that rest isn't a bad thing. You don't feel guilty about going to the bathroom, so why feel guilty about resting? While too much rest can cut into your productivity, an occasional break is necessary to top up your energy reserves.
3. Set aside some "me" time. Pamper yourself occasionally; it's okay to think about yourself and do something simply for the pleasure of it. It's not about being selfish; it's about self-care and energy replenishment.
4. Don't feel guilty when you play. When you're playing, don't dwell on what you could be doing instead. Be present in your play and enjoy yourself. After all, if you wait until all your work is done before you play, you'll never play.
5. Don't be a workaholic. If you're a workaholic, get help. Too much work can literally make you sick. You're likely to burn out, which can lead to depression, excessive physical and emotional stress, and a shortage of physical energy.
6. Learn to unwind. If you find yourself unable to relax after a stressful day, try progressive relaxation for 30 minutes. It quiets your mind, and it's particularly helpful if you suffer from insomnia.
7. Take regular vacations. Stress and leisure are inversely proportional. The less leisure time you build into your overall life, the more stress you'll experience -- and that translates into less energy. Take all the vacation time you're due.
8. Don't jam up vacations with work. Work and play are meant to be separate, so make sure they stay that way. A working vacation isn't a vacation -- it's work. The quality of a vacation isn't measured by the output, so leave your cell phone, Blackberry and laptop at home.
Learn to take it easy to you can become more productive than ever. This might sound like something Zen, but the truth is that even seemingly quiet, relaxing uses of free time are energy builders - not energy drains.
Laura Stack is a personal productivity expert, author and professional speaker who helps busy workers Leave the Office Earlier with Maximum Results in Minimum Time. She is the president of The Productivity Pro, a time management training firm specializing in productivity improvement in high-stress organizations. She is the bestselling author of The Exhaustion Cure (2008), Find More Time (2006) and Leave the Office Earlier (2004).
Click here to buy a copy of The Exhaustion Cure.