A number of years ago, I was sitting in my office looking out the window. A colleague knocked on the door and walked in and said, “Oh good you’re not busy…got time to talk?”
It’s hard to get away with doing nothing isn’t it?
Actually, while I appeared to be taking a break from “work” I was thinking about many things related to my work. In fact I would suggest that some of your best work is done when you are quiet and seemingly doing nothing.
But taking time to do nothing seems irresponsible doesn’t it.
When was the last time you just paused, took a deep breath and sat quietly and did nothing? That’s what I thought. I think it’s more difficult then ever to find the time and space to experience quiet.
Here are a few suggestions why…
- We value busyness over restfulness.
- We are never separated from our smartphones.
- We create “to do” lists that are longer than our grocery lists.
- We take on more believing our lives will be better for it.
- We fill our daily planners with everything except for quiet, unproductive, down time.
But what if doing nothing is in your best interest.
Many companies today–including Apple, Google, Nike, and AOL Time Warner–offer employees a variety of programs to help them find time to clear their minds, from meditation to yoga to stress reduction.
Why would some of the largest companies in the world invest in their employees personal well-being?
Doing Nothing Is Actually Doing Something
Okay, maybe you’re not convinced that doing nothing is actually in your best interest. Well, lets start with 6 reasons why you should reconsider…
1. Allows you to clear your brain and unwind. Constantly being “on” doesn’t give your brain a chance to rest and replenish itself. Being by yourself with no distractions gives you the chance to clear your mind, focus, and think more clearly. It’s an opportunity to revitalize your mind and body at the same time.
2. Helps to improve concentration and increase productivity. When you remove as many distractions and interruptions as you can from your day, you are better able to concentrate, which will help you get more work done in a shorter amount of time.
3. Gives you an opportunity to discover yourself and find your own voice. When you’re a part of a group, you’re more likely to go along with what the group is doing or thinking, which isn’t always the actions you would take or the decisions you would make if you were on your own. (This is also an argument against group work and brainstorming sessions but I’ll save that for another post)
4. Provides time for you to think deeply. Day to day responsibilities and commitments can make your to-do list seem as if it has no end. This constant motion prevents you from engaging in deep thought, which decreases creativity and productivity.
5. Helps you work through problems more effectively. It’s hard to think of effective solutions to problems when you’re distracted by incoming information, regardless of whether that information is electronic or human.
6. Can improve the quality of your relationships. By spending time with yourself and gaining a better understanding of who you are and what you desire in life, you’re more likely to make better choices about who you want to be around. You may also come to appreciate your relationships more after you’ve spent some time alone.
But as important as alone time and doing nothing can be, it is still a challenge to find ways to make it happen.
Here are some guidelines and ideas to get you started:
- Schedule the time in your day. Make sure you are realistic in where the best place to schedule the time is. Don’t make it the first thing in the morning, requiring you to set the alarm earlier or the last thing in the day when you are too tired to really focus on doing nothing.
- Start with 5-10 minutes. You’ll be surprised the difference it can make.
- Get outside. Sit quietly by water or another peaceful setting. When I’m at our cafe, I often step out back to stand by the river and just listen. Feel the warmth of the sun
- Silence all technology, completely disconnect. When was the last time you left your phone in another room, or left it at home on purpose?
- Find a quiet and private place where you will not be disrupted, if this means in the bathroom with the shower running and the door locked, and then spend your 10 minutes there.
- Sit by yourself.
- Simply take notice of your thoughts. Where do they take you?
- If you really struggle to truly meditate, just pretend, it totally takes the pressure off.
- Just breathe
- Listen to God. What is He saying?
So…the power of doing nothing…it may be undervalued in our culture but just 5 minutes a day can be the start to a better day.
Q. How about you? Do you take time on a regular basis to simply do nothing? Why or why not?
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