Doing Nothing is Productive!

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Are you one of those people who needs to be productive?

I certainly am. Not from any external pressure –  I just LIKE getting stuff done, and I always have several projects on the go, a big fat to-do list, as well as a schedule that stretches out towards the horizon.  Life, and its possibilities, lights my fire!

But there is nothing like a good dose of burn-out to help you realise that less is more, and a dose of near-death really does help you to clarify your priorities.

Where one upon a time I worked endlessly, I now work in bursts, and then have some time out that is totally unscheduled.

Before my big cycles of crash and burn, repair, go full tilt, crash and burn, repair, go full tilt, crash and burn – okay, you get my drift – my life looked like this:

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I was a busy little robot working harder and harder, doing more and more, and somehow expecting that I could just carry on that way forever.

I actually thought that if I worked harder and harder I would achieve more and more, ad infinitum.  But of course you end up working with the Law of Diminishing Returns.  More does not make more.  More becomes less.

More work means less sleep. Less fun.  Less clarity.  Less inspiration.  Less connection.  Less well-being. Less healing capacity.  Less opportunity to be spontaneous. Less flexibility.  Less ability to cope with the unexpected. Less true creativity. Less chance of seeing new possibilities, meeting new people and expanding in new directions.

When you keep trying to fit more and more in, something will inevitably break, and that something might be you.

I know this, because I’ve been there.  More than once.  And most of it has been self-inflicted.

I’ve had to ask myself the big questions in life.

I am okay with diminished output if it means better quality of life, and a longer life. I mean, realistically, how much can you get done here if you’re dead? And in the end, does any of that stuff on your to-do list really matter?

So now my life looks much more like this:

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I have periods of deep rest, relaxation and doing totally NOTHING.  And then I have periods of doing things, being active, connecting, learning and being crazy-mad infatuated with taking up all life has to offer!

Truth is, I’m more productive than I ever was, in the areas that matter to me.

I hadn’t expected that.

Oh my goodness I wish I’d know this important little nugget of wisdom years ago.

Less is more.

Image from msugradwellness.wordpress.com

That’s right.

Doing nothing is good for you.

If you don’t know how to do nothing, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Naps.  Napping is awesome!
  • Curl up on the couch with a magazine.
  • Go to bed early or sleep in.  Sleep all day if you feel like it.
  • When something frees up in your schedule, don’t fill that spot with another task or expectation.  Let yourself luxuriate in that new spare time.
  • Dawdle. Potter along on a nice slow walk, amble through a park or shopping mall.
  • Go to the movies.
  • Read a book.
  • Nap.  Did I say that already?  Oh well.  Have another one!
  • Lose yourself in a book.
  • Hang out at the library.
  • Go for a surf.
  • Get a massage.
  • Take a bath.
  • Quit something so you can free up your schedule!
  • Say no to things you don’t want to do.
  • Have an early night and bunk down with some tasty treats and a good DVD.
  • Go on holidays.
  • Have a phone free, computer-free day.
  • Stay home and do… nothing! No housework, no odd jobs. Do what makes you happy. Maybe some craft, or cooking, or just hang out.
  • Spend time with the ones you love.
  • Sit in a coffee shop and read the weekend papers while having a long breakfast or an extended brunch/lunch.
  • Go window shopping, just to pass the time and fill yourself up with images, ideas and dreams.
  • Sunbake.
  • Sit by the ocean or the river.
  • Perch on top of a mountain.
  • Fluff around, not getting anything much done, but not minding that either.  Some people call this procrastination – I call it exploring my desk or kitchen drawers to see what’s really in there…
  • Spend time with the family pet – these guys really have relaxation down to an art!

Magic happens when we give ourselves down-time. And a magical life is definitely one worth living. You never know what might happen if you just create a little space in your day…

Image from The Fox and The Child, Hopscotch films, 2009