Wednesday, December 03, 2008

just do NOTHING...

April writing...

You will also see this quote in my Wordless Wednesday (post below)

“If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live.” - Lin Yutang

There is alot of importance in making the most of your time, but the idea of quality “nothing” time is just as crucial as productive time. In fact, I think the two go together. When you work hard, relaxing is all the more enjoyable. It is really so important to STOP. To just relax. To just be. To not always produce.

Us busy-do-do-doers...have a hard time with this, because the to-do list never ends. As soon as you fold the last bit of laundry, another t-shirt gets thrown into the hamper. After lunch, it’s only a few hours until dinner. If you sit down for a few minute’s rest, in your mind pop another thing to be done. Or in my house, I look over and realize that the floor needs to be swept.

But of all people, we home managers need to go out of our way for some quality down time. If we don’t, we burn out, plain and simple. And if we burn out, anything from the trivial to the serious could happen - the house could really go by the wayside, making it that much harder to clean in the end. Or much worse, we could end up risking our health. At the very least, our home stops being a haven, both for us and for everyone who lives with us.

The key is, our downtime needs to be quality - and by that, I mean unproductive. I mean, it needs to be truly downtime. Sure, you can happen to get something done when you’re resting. But the goal of your downtime shouldn’t be productivity, because your wheels will continue to spin when they should be getting serviced.

How to Have Quality “Nothing” Time
It takes effort to make your down time worth the time it takes. Here are a few ways to make it more purposeful:

• Schedule it in. Sounds counterintuitive, I know, but if you’re like me, you’ll work-work-work right through any well-intentioned down time. Before you know it, your down time was “catch up” time instead.

• Work hard when it is work time. You’ll enjoy your down time more when you’ve truly had a good day of quality work. I don’t mean you need to cross off your to-do list completely before you rest - that will never happen. But make sure you focus on work during work time, instead of intermingling work and play. In other words, when you’re on the computer to work on your family budget and balance your accounts, don’t read blogs at the same time. Finish your work, then sit down later to read blogs exclusively. It’ll be more fun.

• Turn off your distractions. There are so many blog posts out there I want to read, but sometimes, they’ll just need to go unread because I’d rather enjoy my downtime offline. The beauty of the Internet is that most things will stick around for awhile. There’s no blog-reading emergency.

• Know yourself. If you’re an introvert, do what you can to get some alone time to refuel. If you’re an extrovert, see what you can do to grab coffee with a group of girlfriends. I don’t like to put myself in a box. The Myers-Briggs/Jung test can be insightful. It tells me I am an ESFJ, which is a nurturer or harmony...that's the nail on the head for me.

• Nurture your essential relationships. Go on a relaxing date with your spouse. Business meetings are great when you need to discuss important family issues, but those usually don’t count as quality down time. Bowling with your husband can be just as important as a sit-down meeting where you discuss your life goals.

• Turn off that American voice inside you that says “you MUST be productive.” One thing I’ve learned from the culture in which I live is that relationships are more important than efficiency. Even in our downtime, we work so hard that we simply forget what it means to “just be.” Sure, you may enjoy sewing. But if you decide to sew in order to finish that project, not because it relaxes and refuels you, then that’s simply not down time. That’s productive time. Don’t worry about wasting time. Just be.

A Few Ways to Have “Nothing” Time

• take a nap

• call an old friend, and just catch up - and don’t do anything else while you’re on the phone

• read an enjoyable book you’ve been meaning to read

• take a bubble bath

• watch a movie with your spouse, and don’t work on anything else (this is a tough one for me… I hate just sitting there)

• grab coffee with a girlfriend

• read some blogs

• head to a bookstore browse just for fun

• cultivate a new craft - learn how to knit or dance for the heck of it

• snuggle on the couch with your spouse and reminisce about when you were dating

• make a cup of tea, sit out on your porch, and just… sit

• go on a leisurely walk, either alone or with your family - and go nowhere in particular

When you have really good nothing time, your something time is all the better. You’ll feel recharged, you’ll appreciate your kiddos, and you’ll remember why you love your life in the first place. Sometimes, you just need a break from work to help you be a better worker at home. Or anywhere, really.

What’s your favorite way to have down time? What’s the hardest part about finding down time in your life? I’m looking forward to reading your comments.


Becky said...

This was a great blog entry. With my "nothing" time I like to just sit and crochet. It is a very relaxing activity.

Cory E. :) said...

With my nothing time I like to do the dishes, vacuum and sit and watch tv. This was a great blog baby.

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