Want to be productive? Then get better at doing nothing.

Image via iStock.

I am a serial list-checker. With so much to do and seemingly never enough time to actually do it, I have been known to add things to my to-do list that I’ve already done, just so I can get the satisfaction of ticking it off.

It might not be conventional, but if the latest comments from productivity expert David Allen are anything to go by, then true productivity may not be solely about making lists and being busy all the time after all.

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In an interview with Fast Company, Allen revealed the biggest misconception he thinks people make with the five-step productivity method in his best selling book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.  

The five steps, which Allen argues enable you to, as you’d expect, get things done are:

1) Capture – “collect what has your attention”.

2) Clarify – “Process what it means and prioritise”.

3) Organise – “Put it where it belongs”.

4) Reflect – “Review frequently”.

5) Engage – “Simply do”.

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By following these steps, he believes you are able to decide what you need to do as well as the best way to do it.

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The biggest surprise?

According to Allen, sometimes productivity is about deciding to do absolutely nothing. And nor is getting things done always all about being productive in the traditional business sense.

“Being productive means producing desired experiences or results. Do you want to relax? If it takes you three quarters of your holiday to relax from the last two days of getting ready – not exactly your most productive vacation,” he says.

Contrary to what Mary Poppins told you, doing nothing CAN be productive. Image via Disney.

"A hallmark of how well you can do this [the five-step] methodology is how well you can do nothing. How well can you actually have nothing on your mind?"

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And if you think about it, it is a difficult task.

How often have you got into bed and closed your eyes then suddenly been distracted with a million and one different thoughts? Or when you finally steal a few quiet moments on the sofa and spend the whole time thinking about all the things you've still got to finish off at work?

If you can quieten those voices, then I'd say you're having a pretty productive day.

So while it's important to be productive about achieving things that will get you closer to your goals (as well as those more routine tasks that just need to be done), take the time and the effort to be just as productive when it comes to doing nothing.

And yes, I will be adding "nothing" to my to-do list.

Use your time out to try out one of The Glow's recommended face masks.

Do you have trouble being productive? What's your ultimate hack?