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.

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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

 

Journal for Spiritual Clarity and Connection 2 – All about my Mind

The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.  ~Albert Einstein

Week 2:  All About My Mind

This week we are focussing on our minds and all that entails for us, including putting our ‘thinking spaces’ in order.  Our plan is to understand and connect with our minds; our thoughts, knowledge, expectations and goals.

Journal Exercise:

This week, write in your journal about your career and life aspirations.  How could you challenge yourself to grow?  Dancing lessons, trekking in Nepal, a language or a hobby?  Is there something that you have stopped doing,  or would love to do?

Use any of these starters to help you:

  • I have always wanted to learn…
  • I used to really enjoy…
  • One thing I would really like to achieve is…
  • A thing I find difficult that I would like to master is…
  • A thing that I am naturally good at, but would be even better with lessons or a mentor is…
  • When I was younger I always imagined myself doing…
  • I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve always wanted to…
  • My real strength is in my ability to…
  • Everyone has something they are good at, a natural intelligence.  Mine is…

Spend time identifying your stresses.  Work out ways to limit these, or to better manage them.  Look into meditation, relaxation and yoga.  Be active in looking for solutions, and in asking for help.

Use these starters to explore what stresses you:

  • I often worry about…
  • I feel sick or anxious when I think about…
  • The thing I feel a constant pressure about is…
  • If we argue, it’s always about…
  • The area where I’m really ashamed of myself is…
  • The thing that embarrasses me the most is…
  • If I could change one thing it would be…
  • It would be such a relief if…
  • The thing that frustrates me and drives me crazy in my daily life is…
  • The thing I feel slipping away from me is…

Activity:

Make time to relax and/or meditate for ten minutes each day.

Read a good book, and make a list of others you would enjoy reading.

Clean out your filing cabinets, desk, old address books, bookcases, and anywhere notes, knowledge and ideas are stored.  Archive anything you need to hold onto by law, and refile or bin the rest.

Do something stimulating – learn to drum, do crosswords or take up knitting.  See a play, concert, gallery showing, or movie. Enrol in a cooking class or French lessons. Trust that if you look after your mind, stimulate it and challenge it, it will continue to serve you well throughout your life.