My friend Alex once told me he made the most money in the Jacuzzi. He wasn't a gigolo, although he might have liked to have been. No, what he was talking about were the ideas that came to him when he was relaxed.
He reckoned that some of his best money making ideas only popped into his head when he stopped trying to 'think' and let thought come to him. By getting out of the way of his mind, he had the inspiration he needed to build his business.
There are a lot of posts on Linked In about how to achieve more...ways to plan your time, increase your efficiency etc. That's all great of course. There are only so many hours in the day and successful people don't have any more than unsuccessful ones.
But there is something I think that's often overlooked in this whole debate. And that is the nature of what work is exactly and what we mean by working.
A lot of us think of 'real work' as 'doing' - executing on plans and instructions. Rolling out our thoughts into actions and concrete, visible results. This is the kind of work of to-do lists, Getting Things Done, stand up meetings and conference calls.
And then there's a different type of work. There's the hit of inspiration, the eureka moment that provides the answer to a problem that's been bugging us for ages.
And the thing is that often comes to us when we're not trying
In the middle of execution we are focussed on our goal. If we do the steps one after the other we'll arrive at the end result. It's a logical procession of stages that we go through to achieve our ends - a pressure on approach.
With creativity and problem solving, the mind seems to work best when we are relaxed and when it has space to breath. It's a pressure off approach.
And personally, I find it almost impossible to do both at the same time.
In the early days of being an entrepreneur I was very focussed on achieving. I followed the Getting Things Done methodology and logged my to-do lists meticulously.
But I noticed after some time that, although I was achieving a lot, my results were rather pedestrian. My business was missing that magic that made it stand out.
With my concentration on execution, and doing a hundred things at once, my brain didn't have the space it needed to think laterally; to come up with ideas that would set my business apart from the pack.
So I started to give myself space during the working day - to go for a walk, to sit on a bus and stare out of the window, even to go to the spa during the afternoon. And I found that it worked. I started to come up with ideas that gave my business the edge it needed.
Of course, it doesn't end there. We all know the old adage about 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration. Unless your ideas are coupled with great execution, they won't get you very far.
But perhaps that's what sets the best businessmen apart. They have that rare ability to switch been 'doing' mode and 'dreaming' mode. Not just visionaries, but visionaries with the skills and drive to make their vision a reality.
So next time you're working to the max and focussing on getting things done, think about taking some time to pause and reflect. Remember that to be truly effective the mind needs space to breath. Success is not just about action, but about the right action.
And who knows, it might even make you rich!
Image Adrian Scottow