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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Executive Checklist

How Inefficiency can actually make your people happier

Penny Locaso

Six years ago, I lived a very different life, a life where everything I did was planned down to the minute, every deadline was met well before the due date and any time left over well that would be filled with more doing.

I have now spent the past six years as an entrepreneur with a deep-seated passion for learning how I can hack happiness and help others do the same. It’s this journey that enabled me to become acutely aware of how my constant focus on doing had compromised my state of being, human being.  I was so efficient that I had left myself with no time for boredom, spontaneity, curiosity and ultimately happiness.

My experience was not unique COVID Life has amplified what I have termed the busy epidemic. A place where every waking moment is full. Productivity has become our disease and its left the professional world burnt out, overwhelmed and unhappy.

When was it that we deprioritised thinking? When did we forget that inefficiency is the friend of creativity and innovation (two things we are in dire need of)?  When did we forget the magic and point of difference that lies in active pursuits of inefficiency. Consider for a moment the inefficient indulgence of sitting in the pain of deep thinking to solve a hard problem the inefficiency of being spontaneous, or creating the space to get lost, or sitting in a conversation with no intent other than allowing it to unfold. It’s this inefficiency that enables our brains to do their best work. In 2017 Manoush Zomorodi shared in her Ted Talk How Boredom Can Lead To Your Most Brilliant Ideas that neuroscience has proven that our brains do their best work when our Default Mode is ignited. This occurs when we are bored. Basically, it’s in the stillness that the dots connect, it’s where we figure things out and yet where is the stillness in our current work environment? Where as a leader might you start to support your people in creating the space for intentional inefficiency in the service of happiness and innovation?

Incentivise People To Think & Create

Australian-born billion-dollar software success Atlassian is an excellent case in point. They create the space and incentive for their people to spend 20 per cent of their time on their own ideas.  They call this space ‘Shipit Days’. This focus on curiosity has not only benefitted the employees’ development, but it has also delivered a range of new product development features for Atlassian’s software.

Support Your People In Cultivating Hobbies

Gaetano DiNardi in his article ‘Why you should work less and spend more time on hobbies’ states researchers have found that

creative activity like hobbies are positively associated with work-related recovery experiences (i.e. mastery, control, and relaxation) and performance-related outcomes (i.e. job creativity and extra-role behaviours). Creative activity while away from work may be a leisure activity that provides your employees with the essential resources they need to perform at a high level.  Consider incentivising your people to take up a hobby they are interested in and sharing their hobby and what it brings to their life with the broader team.

Create A Team Journaling Practice

The benefits of journaling are far reaching. Science has shown a regular journaling practice clarifies our thoughts, enables us to know ourselves better, reduces stress, removes mental blocks. Why not consider creating a regular team journaling practice. Twenty minutes where you all sit in silence and just explore your thoughts, your feelings and note down your observations on paper. Allow space at the end for anyone to share what came up.

It has taken me a long time to reprogram my mindset to embrace inefficiency as a happiness hack. I have fundamentally shifted my whole work practice, so that I have blocks within each day to think deeply and reflect. I now work less hours than I ever, I have more time with my son and the quality and impact of my work is beyond what I could have ever imagined.  Creating the space for intentional inefficiency has made me happier and healthier. Imagine what it could do for you and your team.


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Penny Locaso
Penny Locaso is the world’s first Happiness Hacker on a mission to teach 10 million humans how to intentionally adapt in order to future proof happiness. She is the author of Hacking Happiness (Wiley $29.95). Penny Locaso is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on LinkedIn.