In a society that values the constant “grind, grind, grind”, entrepreneurs who slow down and do less are judged and condemned. “They’re lazy slackers, and they’re a drain on society,” cry those who detest downtime in all of its forms. This often creates a feeling of severe guilt when we’re not working all the time, which is actually crazy to feel that way if you stop and think about it logically.
What I’ve personally discovered (and talk about a lot in my programs and podcast) is that endless meaningless activity kills the soul and keeps us from reaching our full potential in both business and life.
The next time you feel that you’re way too busy to take a timeout, that’s the exact time when you need downtime. Dare to do what’s best for you, and relax, play, or do nothing. You’ll be glad you did.
Turn Off Your Phone
Realize that you don’t have to be at everyone’s beck and call, that you determine which calls and emails you answer and make a priority, and which ones you don’t. Then turn your phone off; the world will not end if you are incommunicado for a while. Keep it off for as long as you like, and enjoy the peace and serenity that come when no one can disturb you. If anyone hassles you about not being unreachable, gleefully inform them that it is a new trend that will be happening more and more often.
Take a Day Off Work
When’s the last time you dared take a day off work? If you’re like many people, you probably go into the office even when you’re sick, spreading your germs and struggling to complete your task. This time, take a day off while you’re well, instead of waiting for the flu to hit. Enjoy breakfast out at your favorite restaurant. Take a walk through the park and observe nature. Sit on a bench and watch the squirrels run and play. Sit and watch silly daytime television shows and give your brain a break. You’ll be surprised how much you’re able to recharge your batteries by merely taking a break from the daily grind. There’s only one rule: no guilt!
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Watch those around you and notice how many people pride themselves on being busy at all times. Then see whether they’re honestly accomplishing anything or are just generating endless activity. Whether you’re a busy housewife or a corporate executive, figure out the most efficient way to get your work done, and then do it. Refuse to fill your day with meaningless busy work, and once you’ve done the real job, permit yourself to do absolutely nothing. (See my article called “4 Strategies For Working Smarter, Not Harder” for more tips on this subject.)
Permit Yourself to Play
When was the last time you played? “But I’m adult,” you say, “I don’t play.” So what? You’re an adult. That’s all the more reason you need to take time away from work and life and stress, and to have fun. Maybe you enjoy video games. No one has to know; it can be your dirty little secret. Take time out whenever you want and while away the evening driving fast cars, shooting bad guys and killing zombies. Who has to know? On the other hand, maybe you prefer an impromptu game of soccer, baseball, basketball or football with the neighborhood kids or the guys in the park. If so, join in and play until you are just as grimy, dirty and exhilarated as you got when you were a kid.
Go On Strike
Sometimes you’ve just had too much — too much work, too much stress and too much pressure. Before that happens, or after if it sneaks up on you, go on strike. You don’t have to thrash away like a crazed hamster stuck on a treadmill that spins ever faster. You decide what you add or subtract to your list of commitments. If you’d prefer not to serve as the president of your homeowners’ association, volunteer for the PTA or spend your weekend picking up trash at the local park, then merely refuse, firmly and politely. Go on strike from any unessential activity and use the time to sit and breath, muse, relax and meditate. In other words, just do nothing.
The notion that you have to stay busy every minute to keep up with your business and life simply isn’t true; it’s a mirage, a lie, a fallacy. Carve out as much time as possible to allow yourself to do nothing, and see how much better your life suddenly becomes.
Of course I’m not saying to quit working forever. I’m just saying you need more downtime than you probably give yourself – and if you’re like most entrepreneurs, you need a LOT more downtime. And if you give it to yourself, you will be amazed at how you’ll make better decisions and discover innovative solutions even faster than you did before. Just try it. 🙂
P.S. If you would like more information on how to grow by doing less, check out my podcast episode called: Grow by Subtraction Using Forced Hyper-Efficiency