12/06/2007 | How to do Nothing
For those of us who are non-stop workaholics, doing nothing can actually be pretty difficult! If you're like the Energizer bunny in that you keep going, and going, and going, here's how to stop once in a while, think pleasant thoughts, visit the beach, stare at the water, and just do nothing.
- Plan ahead. Whether it's an hour, a day, a week, a month, or a year of doing nothing, cancel all of your appointments for that block of time. Try to pick the most boring week or day, a day where you'll most likely sleep most of the time.
- Let people know. Tell everyone that you're going to be "busy" and will be unavailable. Whether you choose to tell them that you're actually setting aside some time to do nothing, or you just give them the vague explanation "I'm going to be busy" (busy doing nothing!), tell them not to call, visit, or interrupt unless it's a real emergency.
- Find a quiet, private place. Go somewhere you don't feel pressured to do anything. This might be your bedroom, the backyard, or a local park. Find that place and go there.
- Set your alarm. Set an alarm of some kind to go off when your "nothing" time is over, so that you don't have to constantly look at the clock and count the minutes.
- Turn off the phone. Turn off your cell phone, work phone, pager, PDA, Blackberry, computer,Beeper,Radio,Tv and any other means of sending or receiving calls or messages. These distractions will only keep you from enjoying the nothing.
- Sit by yourself. Feel the wind, the sun on your face, the chair touching your bottom. Listen to the rustle of the trees, birds chirping, water flowing. Never think about the past or future. Avoid the temptation to turn on the TV, listen to music, write a note to yourself, get a bite to eat, or anything else. The only thing you should do is go to the bathroom (if needed).
- Learn how to free your mind. Clear your mind of all thoughts of work, worries, family, etc. by simply letting them go. Doing this not only allows your body to do nothing, but your mind as well. However, do not be worried if you find yourself thinking of things. Freeing up one's mind is actually very difficult to master, and often requires more discipline than some free time (Buddhist monks, for example, dedicate their entire lives to freeing their minds).
- Setting aside some free time to do nothing on a regular basis is very healthy for your mind, body, and emotional life, especially if you find that you're really wearing yourself thin. Often times, we are encouraged by the actions of our fast-paced, high-information society to believe that staying busy is a normal and natural state of existence. Remember, there is no guilt in giving yourself some private downtime. How often you do nothing is up to you, but it should be a rejuvenating experience.
- Once you become good at doing nothing, you can use this newfound time and energy to think of things, instead. This would not be doing "nothing," but thinking while shutting out the world. Focusing on one thing this way will help you to concentrate better than having your mind zoom over a million thoughts a minute.
- If you live in a small apartment, set aside a corner of a larger room with floor pillows, a softly scented candle and maybe a cozy throw. If these things aren't available, just find a quiet place for yourself.
- Try to temporarily forget about that work you have to get done, that test you need to study for, or that place you need to be, and just relax. Eventually, you will learn to plan what you will think about and not think about while doing nothing.
- If you have an intimate companion, try doing nothing together.
- If you really can't handle the idea (or guilt) of doing nothing, then learn how to fish. That way you just lay by a river and say, "I'm not doing nothing, I'm fishing!"
- If your parent asks what you're doing, and doesn't believe you aren't doing nothing, say you're daydreaming.
- At first you may feel nervous, jittery, and restless. Try to relax and understand that doing nothing does not mean that you're being unproductive or irresponsible. Keep in mind that you are doing this in order to clear your mind and ultimately extend your life so that you will have even more time. Ultimately, setting time aside to recharge your batteries will make you more productive, creative, and more able to concentrate in the long run, and that's very good for work, school, or other.
- If you are exhausted while you try to do nothing, you may end up falling asleep.
- Remember not to do this for too long...eventually, you've gotta do something! Or maybe not!