The Radical Idea of Doing Nothing
I wanted to talk about something that I’ve worked into my lifestyle that has improved my quality of life quite a bit. The beauty of this idea is that it doesn’t cost you anything, doesn’t require any special equipment, and is something that can be done at any time.
I’m talking about the simple act of taking a day where you schedule nothing at all.
This idea will probably sound crazy to many of you who are struggling to figure out how to pack all the things that you need to get done into a workday, and cursing the fact that we only have 24 hours in the day to get everything done.
I thought these things too when I first decided to give this idea a try, and if you’ll stick with me a bit, I’ll show you how taking some time for yourself actually helps you out in the long run by becoming more focused and productive, and helps you to figure out the things that are really important.
The Importance of a Day of Complete Rest
Taking a day to do nothing of merit every so often will help you to reset your hectic lifestyle a bit if you approach things correctly. Having nothing on the schedule is just the first step. What you need to make your day of nothing work for you is to take a step back from the busy life that you’re leading and start with the task of mapping out what is important to you, and what you want to accomplish.
I’ve found that the occasional day of rest and relaxation where I purposely set out to recuperate help puts me into a spot where I can think freely on how things are going in life and help me figure out if I need to adjust my course a bit.
The biggest problem that I used to have when I was trying to squeeze more and more into a day was that I never made the time to take a step back from all my running around and figure out if I was moving forward or not. Taking a day off is a great way to improve your ability to focus and look at things with greater wisdom, which is what we’re all looking to put more of in our daily lives.
Personal Breakthroughs and More Time for What’s Important
One of the things that I figured out quickly on my first day off was that I was spending an awful lot of time on various projects that were not helping me reach my goals. In effect, I had lost sight of my most major life goal and had added a lot of things to my schedule that were sabotaging me and taking up too much of my precious time.
Once I had taken the time to analyze what I was getting out of all the things that I was working on in my spare time, it was much easier to figure out what to cut. There were three things that I was working on that were complete wastes of time and energy and I made the decision to stop doing them. Two of the activities were costing me monthly fees as well, so being able to free up some cash as well as time was a win-win.
After a successful day of resting, a bit of hard thinking and being honest with myself, I had managed to make my life far less hectic than it previously was. All this came about because I decided that I was going to take a day off and not touch any ongoing projects. It was so successful for me that I decided that every so often, I would repeat the ritual and schedule a day to myself where nothing of merit was scheduled.
Again, running through life without understanding why we do the things that we do is usually a recipe for misspent time and money. I believe that it’s very wise to take these occasional steps back and take stock of what’s going on in our lives. Freeing up time spent on non-value add activities, many of which we don’t even actually enjoy is a low-cost strategy to directly improve your life.
Setting a Goal and Staying on Track
Whatever your goals may be, keeping yourself on the right track always gets you there more quickly. For example, I wanted to start learning Japanese for a trip that I was planning. I had always seemed to have other things that came up that prevented me from spending as much time learning as I would have liked, many of which were self-inflicted.
I think that for many people, myself included, when we want to try something new that is outside of our comfort zone, we’ll subconsciously start doing other things with our time that are easier and more familiar. Sitting down and learning a new language was much harder for me than starting up a television series that I had been putting off for example. Watching television is far easier and more convenient than learning grammar, so I had somehow found all this time to start watching that television show.
After taking a day off to focus on getting my goals on track, I ended up coming up with a better schedule and cut out a few activities that I realized I was just using as a soft excuse to put off studying. My progress on language acquisition picked up considerably after this exercise as I had made it a priority and scheduled an hour each day to work on it that I had always had some excuse to put off.
The same practice can be applied to any goal that you might have. Whether it’s getting a degree, planning a nice vacation, learning a new skill, or anything else that you can think of, taking the time to organize your priorities and adjusting your activity schedule so that your goals move forward works out every time.
No matter what you have going on in your daily life, it makes a lot of sense to take a step back every so often and take some time to figure out whether you are spending your time in ways that help you progress towards your goals.
It doesn’t take a lot of energy to plan a day where you aren’t running around to help you figure out how to streamline your schedule.
I recommend scheduling a Sunday every month or six weeks or so where you do not have any major chores or work obligations planned in order to do this. We can’t always completely schedule out our obligations, family things may come up, unexpected emergencies, or any number of things. This is fine. The important thing is that you come up with some time to take that important step of getting your life in order and making sure that you aren’t wasting any of your precious time.
Taking inventory and making a game plan on how to spend your time as well as your money is a wise and important step to leading a life of purpose and productivity.
So, take that day to do nothing at all. It may be the most productive thing that you can do for yourself all month