Sometimes Slacking Off Can Be More Productive Than Giving 110%

A career in the military and law enforcement share many attributes, including the frequent need to “look busy.” But, current research indicates that there are times when taking a break, slacking off even, can result in better overall results than giving 110% every shift. Maybe Pvt. Beetle Bailey was onto something.

A majority of military and law enforcement members are Type A personalities and joined because they want to make a difference, knowing they would never get rich and that most days would be anything but easy. Of course, every unit has that one guy, the one who is always looking for a way to get out of work, even going as far as spending more effort avoiding a task than if he actually did it.

Most of the other unit members can’t stand him, and the 1st Sgt probably has a chair with his name one it. But sometimes the establishment goes too far, requiring too much too often. The reality is that everyone needs a break now and then, plus letting your brain rest for a few minutes actually allows it to work better.

Those who have studied the subject refer to the relationship of productivity to brain function as the neuroscience of flow state and define flow state as “being at one with the task at hand” – most of us know it as being in the zone. Most people, including the 1st Sgt, probably believe that your brain needs to be running at 100% to accomplish the most productivity, but evidence suggests otherwise. Studies indicate that when your brain is running full tilt, the overload actually distracts you from the task at hand. In other words, it is better to slow down, relax and move closer to a day-dreaming state if you are stumped over a difficult project.

Think about it (but not too hard!) – how many times have you struggled to answer a difficult question or simply to remember a name, and no matter how hard you tried, nothing came to you? Think about how many times you simply forgot about it and went about your business, only to have the answer pop into you head out of nowhere? It’s the same principle, except now you know why it happens. Now you just need to understand how to put it into play without looking like you are the next company joker.

I would not recommend yoga in your fighting position or meditating when you should be patrolling for speeders, but you can still take few minutes for yourself without being accused of screwing the pooch. A quick stop for a fresh coffee or a short foot patrol, if policy allows, may be all it takes to slow things down and get the juices flowing. Plus, the same principle can be used outside work or at a second job with a lot less fear of being called out by the top.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell

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