The Forgotten Power of Walking

Since a few weeks I stopped hassling with to-do-lists and such. Before you know it you’re only doing specific things and never get any real work done. You have to realise some work is more important then other work. Even things like urgent matters are only urgent, they are not valuable. Other stuff is more valuable, but maybe less urgent.

So, when you follow a to-do-list only the urgent matters are done and you don’t prioritise the work that matters. What will that lead to in the long run?

Instead of that I started to schedule my day. I allocate a chunk of time to a certain type of task, being it “deep work” or “reading” or “research” or “email”.

Not every day is exact the same schedule. I like to decide with each bit of time what to do next. In the back of my mind there are a few types of tasks I want to do every day. I have a mental stack of blocks, where each block is a type op task. When I finished a certain task, I put the block of that task away and then look back at the day if my whole stack has moved position or not.

These are the type things that are on that mental list (I like to think they make my day fruitful, especially when looked at it from the long term):

  • deep work, incl. writing
  • research, incl reading + notes
  • deliberate practice
  • reading non-fiction
  • must-do nuts-and-bolts work (email, shopping,…)
  • friends + family time
  • sports, being in nature

Starting from that, there is something that I picked up from Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and Influence People” that works pretty well for me. He writes in the preface how you should use his book. He suggests to use a star-system: say put **** next to a passage you think is really helpful or important.

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Later on in the book he writes about some CEO who used to schedule Saturday Nights to reflect upon his week and think about what he has done and how he could have done it better. Really useful as a routine, I might think.

So, this is what I do now and what works for me. I do a type of task, say writing. After I’m finished I make a note in my Agenda. What I did, the time it took and I give it a star rating. From 0 to 5 stars.

And this is what I found out : Walking works wonders.

I have read the research about how Walking works wonders for you creativity. Like you’re better at coming up with ideas after you walked, then when you would’ve been sitting in a chair.

So, I decided to bring my kids to school and instead of rushing back, we just say our goodbyes and then I started walking. For like an hour. Give or take 10 minutes. Of course, no checking my Whatsapp groups, not taking calls, etc.

During that time, my mind wonders a bit, but I discipline myself to think about the Deep Work I’m about to undertake today. What are the problems? How to solve them? What might be the solutions?

Then I let my mind wonder a bit again, enjoy the view of the landscape and then force  myself to think about my work ahead again.

For me, it’s amazing. The results in my head are astonishing. It clears my head with an exponential factor.

I run also, but this is better then running to me. Running occupies my mind. Running is great when you don’t want to think about anything but running. Walking doesn’t occupy me. It clears my mind, sets it open for new ideas and connections.

It’s quite efficient, in that aspect.

It make me wonder if it would work in teams as well. I would guess so. Late in the evening the day before, or early in the morning you get a short briefing: what is the big question that needs to be solved? What were the problems we were working on?

And then you let people walk on it for an hour or so, before coming into the office. I bet the results would be spectacular.

In Kcal count, in mental spirits, in quality of the results and efficiency of the work done.

Also, as a side note. I stopped watching telly the hour before sleeping, but also I stopped reading non-fiction at night. I read fiction now. Graphic Novels like Ayako by Tezuka  or some Murakami book.

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While my brains were always lit on fire by the cheer interestingness of the non-fiction books, I know find peace in the familiarity of quality fiction. I might even take up on something like “read 50 classic novels in a year”, when I devoured my collection of Murakami’s, Tezuka’s and Coetzee’s.

Now I think about it: this reading fiction might be similar to walking. A night stroll through the lands of literature, to finish the day of. Gentle into that good night.










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