Doing absolutely nothing may sound like a luxury but it’s actually an important key to reach your goals. The most successful people in the world schedule free time. If you want to accomplish more, try doing less.
I block out two hours on my schedule every Friday. No appointments, no work, no errands.
I know, you were expecting something a little more scandalous, right? Well, it seemed naughty and a little self-indulgent at first. To me, at least.
The two hours of time that I block out on my schedule every Friday is to do….nothing.
I use this time to reflect and dream. I don’t try to get anything done. I don’t crank out any projects. I don’t whip my house into shape by doing chores. I don’t run errands.
Are you too busy for nothing?
We all have busy schedules, which can lead to churning away at everything that needs to get done.
We forget to pause to make sure that what we’re doing is most essential. We get so hyper focused on things that require our attention, we find our time disappearing. This was happening to me on a regular basis. Sure, I was accomplishing things that needed to get done; going to work, preparing meals, and paying the bills.
But my real dreams, the big goals I kept close to my heart, would invariably get lost in the shuffle of the every day. Living this way contrasts sharply with the “Keep Life Simple” philosophy I live by and runs counterproductive to how I want my life to look.
The most successful people in the world
The most happy, successful, and productive people in the world have something in common.
They routinely take time away from their everyday work to think, read, reflect, and plan. In his book, Essentialism, Greg McKeown writes, “In order to have focus, we need to escape to focus.”
It finally dawned on me. If escaping is held sacred by some of the most successful people on the planet, maybe it was worth a try. I put this idea to the test, and started blocking out two hours on Fridays to escape. I read inspirational literature, reflect on what’s working and not working in my life, and dream and plan for the future. And I’ve never been more clear about my long-term goals.
I’ve given a voice to my deep-down dreams and created a plan to start working towards them. I have a greater sense of purpose and direction for myself and my life. Most importantly, I’ve learned the importance of stepping away from work to recharge.
Sounds simple in theory, but you may be thinking, Nope, not me. I don’t have time for that.
You can. You must. You’ll be happy you did.
It doesn’t matter if you escape every week, once a month, or every other day. It can be just a few minutes a day or a block of time.
Here are some ways to incorporate this sacred time into your schedule using lessons from Essentialism.
Create a plan
Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.”
I work from home and so I have the luxury of creating my own schedule. So taking two hours every week is feasible for me. But the amount of time you can dedicate to escaping will depend on your schedule. The most important thing to consider is to create a routine and follow through. Find a regular time that works for you and stick to it. Give yourself the gift of making what you need a priority.
The faster and busier things get, the more we need to build thinking time into our schedule.”
Learning and education is the key to personal and professional growth. Read inspirational books or devotionals. Recharge your philosophical batteries. Catch up on the online resources and blogs sitting in your email inbox but haven’t had time to read. Browse books that you want to read and add them to your reading list. Research new ideas.
Mentally free yourself
It’s not the work that’s exhausting; it’s worrying about the work, before and after, that’s exhausting.”
Free your brain from mulling over all the thoughts, ideas, and to-dos you’re thinking of. Do a brain dump each week to get these thoughts down on paper or into a computer file. I like to set a timer for 5 minutes and write down all the errands, appointments, household projects, and work tasks I want to do in the near future. Getting it on paper gets it off my mind, which frees me up to focus on the present.
Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done.”
Ideas without action are just ideas, so taking the time to set goals is crucial. Not rocket science, but so many of us (guilty, me!) don’t understand why we are not achieving our goals. But do we consciously plan out the actions to make them happen? Are we doing the “right” things to get there? Getting clear about doing the essential, and choosing not to do the trivial items, helps us get there.
Essentialists actually explore more options than their Nonessentialist counterparts.”
It’s critical to reflect on what is most important to you. Celebrate your successes, whether small or big, each day. Think about the many options available to you, and consciously choose the ones that move you in the direction you want to go.
Use planning tools
Almost everything is noise, and a very few things are exceptionally valuable.”
Use a planning tool to make sure that the most important things on your mind get the time they deserve for the coming week. Find a planning tool, agenda, or journal that fits your personality. My favorite is the Living Well Spending Less planner. The kind of planner doesn’t really matter, but it’s important to use one that suits your needs. It’s a great place to intentionally plan your time.
Regular escape time can help you lead a more intentional life. I hope you’ll consider working time into your schedule to escape soon.
Jennifer Ullrich is a writer and teacher who shares her journey about how she simplified her life, and how it has resulted in more freedom, time, and peace. For more ideas about how to simplify your life, visit her at www.alifedesigned.net