How Doing Nothing Takes Work and Discipline

Not too long ago, I booked off a day in the middle of the week, with my mind racing as to all the things I could get accomplished and how much I could get ahead in my to-do list.

Weekends can get pretty busy between social engagements and with the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping, the laundry and trying to find a few minutes to recharge for the week ahead.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change a thing about my routine. It’s just that after a busy work week with all of its trappings and weekends that are bustling with activity, the prospect of a day off in the middle of the week is an offer with limitless possibilities.

But the question is: do I really NEED to do anything?

As much as I can be an extrovert who likes to be around people, if my environment delivers a steady stream of stimulating activities (even fun ones), I know that I need a break to balance things out to not get overwhelmed.

It is probably no accident that my hobbies have leaned toward quieter, more introspective moments, like writing, reading, nature photography, painting and running. The trick is to ensure I spend enough time on those recharging activities, to build up the energy reserves for the more extroverted side of me to come through in busier times.

But I think part of the problem is that I have been programmed for productivity. Having been brought up in a climate of “make hay while the sun shines”, “the early bird catches the worm” and “idle hands are the devil’s tools”, sitting still does not come naturally. As I hinted in my blog post “Being Bored Was Not an Option”, when I was young, if I ever thought to myself that I was bored, somehow, magically, my dad would show up with a broom or a rake in hand and a list of chores. That being the case, I never allowed myself to get bored.

Plus, throughout my education and my career, “continuous improvement” were always in vogue. We were taught that if we weren’t actively doing something, there must be something else we can do to fill the time and improve something else.

If I was caught up on my homework, there was always some notes to review or something to read to better absorb the material we were taught.

I remember in my first job, my manager encouraged me to reserve some chores to do when the store was quiet. “Facing the aisles” (i.e., bringing all the products to the front of the shelf to make the aisle appear neat and organized) was always waiting to be done as was restocking certain sections where merchandise moved briskly.

In my own life, as a responsible home owner, there’s always something to be done around the house, and when that’s done, I can always bake something or prepare a batch of gluten-free foods to top up the supply in the freezer. When those are done, there’s always spring cleaning, blog maintenance, planning stuff.

Having become aware of my tendency to become a perpetual motion machine, even in the quietest of moments, I know I need to circumvent my programming (and dare I say possibly genetic coding, since it runs through both sides of the family) and break the cycle.

Funny enough, when I’m sick, I know my body comes first and I have no problem suspending any knowledge of a to-do list until I feel better. But when I’m well, I tend to guilt myself into trying to make the most of every moment and not waste a day. As much as I like the feeling of being productive and getting things accomplished, I seem to have a hard time recognizing when I am ahead of the game, and just take that time to chill.

And that’s where the epiphany begins. Taking time to be kind to oneself, to slow down the pace, to recharge one’s batteries, to relax and to be in the moment, ARE good investments. Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to keep going?

By taking the time to balance out those moments in life that tap into my energy, with low-key activities that will replenish my energy, I can bounce back to fully enjoy and appreciate those special times with family, friends and co-workers.

This would be the time to encourage the cat to jump on my lap and lock me into the sofa for a couple of hours against my free will, and to enjoy it!

Either way, in my down time, it takes practice and discipline to learn to sit still, relax and not worry about my to-do lists, productivity and multi-tasking. What I need to realize (and to truly believe) is that investing time in me is indeed using my time wisely.

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, please know that there are plenty more where that came from! If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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