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Home > Blog > Thought is the Most Productive Form of Work (Not)
Out of Our Minds
Friday, July 23, 2004 3:06 PM
Thought is the Most Productive Form of Work (Not)
Rebecca Ryan on Creativity

One of the most dysfunctional - and brilliant - men I ever worked for hung this quote on a hook in my brain: 'Thought is the most productive form of work.' I really believed this, although it was hard to pass 'thought' off as 'work.' To 'think' means to lolligag, to prop up one's feet, to daydream, to appear - well - worthless. This doesn't go over well with our compadres who confuse 'busy'ness' with business at work.

After my dad's death - and because it was already planned - I took the month of July off. This month, I realized that THOUGHT is NOT the most productive form of work.


Our minds are dangerous places. As one of my gal-pals says, 'My mind is like a dark alley; I try not to go in there alone.'\n\nWe can get caught in thought. If you've ever had an idea or problem lodged in your brain - just circling through the same outcomes, limits, and scenarios, you know EXACTLY what I'm saying. We run mental laps around the same track, making no progress at all.\n\nSo I'm here to tell you: Thought is NOT the most productive form of work. PLAY is. PLAY engages all of our senses. It moves muscles other than our cerebrums. PLAY rejuvenates, makes room for risk, and reminds us what it is to feel truly alive. \n\nThis month I painted rocks with a five and a seven year old. I threw my partner over my shoulder and into the pool. I participate in a twenty minute pillow fight, and played tag until I was laughing too hard to stand up.\n\nAnd an amazing thing happened: I returned to work this morning with more energy than I've had in months. I had a clear idea of what was important (clients and partners) and what wasn't (reading back issues of newspapers.) I finally took action on creating the office space I really want, instead of settling for the one I have. I'm renewed. It was like someone hit CTRL+ALT+DEL on my creative cortex.\n\nSo there you have it...THOUGHT is not the most productive form of work. PLAY is.


5 comments

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g - 11/22/2004 6:49:56 AM
Whilst not the most productive, I suggest that 'as the root from which all is birthed', thought is the most important 'work'.
Freddie Daniells - 7/26/2004 10:19:05 AM
Hi Rebecca:

I am reminded of the phrase that says 'the mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master'.

I have just returned this morning from holiday and whilst away read a fascinating book called Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton. It is a very scary look at ourselves and how we spend too much time buried inside our minds. I am not sure that I agreed with all of Brads thoughts (or that I particularly warmed to him as an individual) but it really made me think! Might be worth a try.
Dennis - 7/24/2004 9:39:02 AM
VERY interesting take...thanks. I'm going to try that myself. Sometimes I not only run an unproductive 'track' but get locked in a tight 'loop'!

anita - 7/23/2004 4:05:05 PM
Rebecca,

Once again, you nailed it. I think people who love what they do consider it play, and they are the people who don't mind putting in long hours and -- voila! -- also end up successful. traditional 'success' profile.

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