I know that when I’m working on a book about productivity it sounds counter-productive to tell you when you shouldn’t be productive. But hear me out.

There are inevitable points in our lives when we will become so full of germs that we shouldn’t be doing anything other than eating and sleeping. It could be the flu, a nasty cold, or some other short-term health affliction that not only fries your body but also your brain.

If you’re going through this, stop.

I repeat: STOP.

When you’re ill, you need to rest. If you don’t rest, it takes you longer to heal. If it takes you longer to heal, that’s a longer period of time where you’re being unproductive because your brain is so fried. That, or worse — you completely mess up what you’re doing because you’ve really no idea what you’re doing.

I went through a phase like this last month.

I looked fine (mostly), but I was physically weak and struggled to get out of bed most days. When someone sent me a message, I had to read it three times before I understood it.

A week later, I felt even worse. I was going lightheaded, I could barely speak because my throat was so sore, and I couldn’t stop shaking.

In the end, I decided I needed a break.

I ended up off sick for a few days, and forced myself to rest. I watched TV. I ate shepherd’s pie. I read my book. I did whatever I could that took little brain capacity and rested as much as I could. My characters still demanded my attention, and I still had ideas for things to do to them, but I made notes to refer back to when I felt better, rather than doing them whilst I was still ill.

It was the worst time to be ill — I’d just confirmed the launch date for What Happens in New York, had launched my social media marketing campaign, and was still editing the manuscript. But I wasn’t up to doing any of it.

Luckily I’d scheduled the social media messages two months in advance, so I didn’t need to worry about that. Ditto blog posts.

This allowed me to keep a consistent schedule even though I wasn’t up to producing any work.

And it helped me to relax.

Knowing how much work I did onWhat Happens in New York in six months also helped me to relax in the knowledge that I could still finish the manuscript by 26th May, given how much I’ve achieved since June last year.

Other times you shouldn’t be productive:

There are several other times that you shouldn’t feel like you need to be productive. However, these are purely dependent on you as a person, and whether or not you feel you’re up to it. These are the times I feel you shouldn’t be productive:

  • When there’s a baby on the way (that’s a lot of work!)
  • When you or your partner has just had a baby (even more work!)
  • When a relative is ill and you have to care for them
  • When you’re on holiday (shouldn’t you be relaxing?)
  • On your birthday (I’m a firm believer that you should always celebrate your birthday, and unless you ADORE your job, like I do writing, do something you enjoy on your birthday, not work on it)

Are there any other times you feel we shouldn’t be productive that you feel I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below!

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