Forget ‘Doing,’ Sometimes It’s Best To Wait

Tom Kuegler
Apr 9, 2019 · 4 min read
Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

Yesterday I ordered a traditional breakfast here in Singapore. It’s made with Kaya toast, coffee, and two half-boiled eggs.

When the kindest Chinese man you could think of served it to me, I thought the half-boiled eggs were hard boiled eggs.

Fifteen seconds after receiving the eggs, I struck them with a metal spoon and got a surprise. The contents inside splattered all over my fingers, and I realized there was a reason the man served them inside a big metal pitcher with boiling hot water.

They were still cooking. They were meant to stay inside. I was the idiot American who couldn’t wait more than fifteen seconds to eat my damned eggs.

I felt stupid.

I realized later that I should wait 7 minutes for them to cook, then I could break them open and create a delicious Singaporean egg stew. So I learned a very big lesson that day.

It pays to wait.

I Had A Big Problem…

A few weeks ago I realized something that was both terrifying and sad. My Facebook page — this baby that I worked on tirelessly for the last 8 months — was losing steam.

This happened because I was burned out creatively.

I kept putting out the same kinds of videos over and over again and my audience, rightfully so, lost a little interest in what I was saying.

I had two possible plans of action…

  1. Keep making the same videos.
  2. Take a break, compose a different strategy, then refine it until it was ready to implement.

I decided to chill out, and this helped me not only find a better filmmaking “style,” it has also helped in a variety of other ways, too.

Waiting Creates An Explosion Of Creativity

I made a few realizations the last three weeks in temporary retirement…

  1. Making videos isn’t as big of a passion as I thought.
  2. I don’t like carrying my camera around everywhere. It’s heavy.
  3. Vlogging in public doesn’t always come naturally to me.

Those are just a few things. I would’ve come to these realizations eventually but waiting helped me get there ten times faster.

My favorite YouTuber Casey Neistat made a video 2 years ago about being “in the thick” of creating daily vlogs.

He said that when you’re creating something every day all your brain thinks about from the second you wake up to the second you go to bed is what you’re making for the day.

You never think about the future or anything else because your brain is so stuck in the present moment.

Now I’m a big fan of staying in the present moment, don’t get me wrong, but I couldn’t have realized all my misgivings about video if all I could think about every day was the video I had to create.

Waiting takes you out of the present moment and can lead you to some pretty mind-blowing realizations. I find that when I work at night (7–12 PM), I have an extremely hard time going to bed. If you want to take me away from my computer, you practically have to pry my hands off the mouse.

Everything is a huge deal because I’m right in the thick of working, but within 10 minutes of shutting it down and getting ready for bed, I feel infinitely better and sometimes come up with solutions to my night time work problems right then!

That happens in 10 minutes. Imagine what waiting a week, two weeks, or even a month can do?

My Mental Health Is Much Better, Too

An article published on Forbes two years ago explored the link between happiness and increased creativity.

It turns out there’s a big link between them (who knew?).

Following this logic it’s easy to see how taking breaks leads to a drastic uptick in creativity — since taking breaks make us happier. In a weird way, “waiting” after big burnout periods might actually lead us to our solution faster than if we just put out head down and kept working.

This should be marvelous news for those who feel guilty about not getting enough done every day.

Work less and you may find your solution faster.

Here’s Where It Goes Wrong, Though

I wrote this article with a LOT of hesitation. I write about the benefits of taking action and urge my audience to get going a heckuva lot. I think that’s probably the biggest problem many people have — not creating in general but staying creative for prolonged periods of time.

I find most people cling to this sort of “wait it out” advice to give themselves an excuse for not working— including me.

The problem with too much waiting is the whole “too much waiting” part.

I’ll make it simple for you here…

You know when you’ve been waiting for too long. You only need to be honest with yourself. There’s no magical template to follow to figure out if you’ve been too stagnant — you already know.

Here’s The Big Picture

My problem as a creator, weirdly enough, is that I actually create too much. There’s not that many people that have that problem because ya’ll have other things to do in your life like work, raise children, spend time with your spouses, and enjoy time off.

I get that.

I have a problem that many only dream of having, but that doesn’t negate the fact that a good number of people are probably going through the same thing as me.

For those who do create a ton of content online, though, and call this their “work,” it can pay to take some time off from it.

And in the myriad of endless self-help gurus spouting the benefits of taking action, action, and more action, doing something as sac-religious as waiting can seem like a cornball idea.

It’s not. Come on in. The water’s warm. And you’ll stay sane, too, on your way to the top.

Thanks for reading.

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