I’ve been on the simple living/slow living bandwagon for a while now, but one thing I’m still not good at is doing nothing. My working week tends to be pretty action packed, and often my weekends are too, so whilst I know that doing nothing is super important, I’m just not very good at it. Today I thought I would explore what I have learned about this, and I’d love to hear your thoughts too!
Given I know that having down time is absolutely vital to my sanity I am much better than I used to be about planning for it. If I’ve had a few busy weekends in a row, or a particularly full on week at work, I make sure I don’t plan too many activities for the next weekend, or nights after work. This part I am good at! The part I am still less good at is actually doing nothing when I get to the aforementioned downtime! As someone who is used to be productive and loves a to-do list, sitting and just reading or watching something (other than sport, that I am ok with!) feels like a luxury. I’ve been working on it though, and these are some of the things I have tried.
Remind Myself of Why It’s Important
If I find myself feeling guilty for actually doing nothing I stop and remind myself why it needs to be part of my life. I know that if I go at full tilt at all times I will burn out and won’t be able to achieve the things I actually do need to do. I’ll be stressed and anxious and no fun to be around, and it’s totally unnecessary. My brain will eventually be maxed out anyway, so it’s counterproductive to feel like I need to be achieving something at all times. It’s not me being lazy, it’s actually important!
Be Clear that Doing Nothing Doesn’t Literally Mean Doing Nothing
This was a big one for me! In my mind, I knew I needed to slow down and give myself a break, but I think I had created a weird version of what that meant in my mind. Whilst sometimes doing literally nothing might be what is needed, for the most part it just means doing something without it having to be productive. It may sound obvious, but it was a big one for me. That means that things like pottering about in my garden or reading a book counts as doing nothing. As does cooking when it’s not for the blog or listening to a podcast while doing a puzzle. Once I got that through my head, I found it much easier to stop and do that nothing activity.
Schedule It In
As I mentioned, I’m actually not too bad at roping off time to myself, but I’ve been taking that scheduling one step further. Given I was still finding myself feeling guilty when I got to the pre-determined time for nothing, I’ve been trialling scheduling in the actual ‘nothing’ activity too. That might mean one night after working planning to get through a few chapters of a new book, or go for a walk now that the evenings are so much lighter. It also means scheduling in time to tend to my plants, or watching a few episodes of a show I love, without doing anything else at the same time. It’s really been helping!
Notice the Difference
One of the key ways I have been able to continue to get ok with doing nothing is to reflect on how I feel afterwards. On weekends when I spend my Sunday afternoon ‘doing nothing’ I always start the week feeling more refreshed and focused. Then I can actually be more productive at work, more balanced and all round happier. The more I pay attention to this, the less guilty I feel when it’s time to do nothing again.