Years ago, I attended a seminar where the presenter was a professional coach for successful Fortune 500 executives. What he shared was a bit surprising. Across the board, he discovered that every last one of these successful people, despite their busy schedules, was an absolute stickler about structuring time off into their schedule. In fact, taking a full day off each week was the norm. These people found that it was this structured down time that kept their creative juices flowing, sparked ideas that fueled their vision for success and helped them avoid burnout.
Now some of you might say that this is all well and good for the successful elite, but you have real jobs and real responsibilities. Fair enough. But what if it were true that, just by making a small change to your schedule, it would be possible for you to reap some of the same benefits? What if not a full day, then a half day, say a weekend morning, or even just an hour or two…scheduled consistently into your week?
Now, to clarify, this doesn’t mean zoning out in front of the TV or playing hours of video games. This down time is about no discernable activity at all (think sitting by the lake and gazing at the sunset), or activity that has no end goal. For example, gardening is fine as long as it’s not about getting the weeding done. Ditto for anything from cooking to hobbies to sports: just do what you do for the sheer joy of being in the experience.
And don’t forget to unplug either. Just because you live in a world where you are potentially available all the time, doesn’t mean you should be. It’s no wonder the body and the brain get so overloaded and exhausted. Human beings aren’t called human doings for a reason.
So as you settle in the summer season, consider how structured down time can help you learn these “3 R’s:”
Building structured down time into your week allows you to familiarize yourself with a pace that is mindful of your optimum wellbeing: i.e., how to take care of yourself while you take care of business. Over time, you learn that even activity can be restful.
Building structured down time into your week provides space for you to explore activities that energize you. Whether it’s a hike in the woods, spending time at the beach, or losing yourself in a project, the goal is to come away saying, “That felt great!”
Building structured time into your week lets you become aware of your own internal landscape. Whether it’s a simple meditation, spending time in prayer, taking a mindful walk or journaling, investing time getting to know yourself increases your self-awareness, which in turn helps you create a life that’s yours to enjoy.
And isn’t that what it’s really all about?
Until next time…