The Importance of Idle Time

You’re just about to leave for your dentist appointment, when you receive a phone call saying the dentist has been called out on emergency and will have to reschedule your appointment.

Congratulations!
You are the winner
of one unexpected free hour!
What will you do with your winnings?

Answer your email? Return to the project you were working on before you had to leave? Pay bills? Return phone calls?

Ever consider doing nothing?

The Importance of Idle Time

What is this life if, full of care,
we have no time to stand and stare.
W. H. Davies

If you’re like many, the thought of doing absolutely nothing for an entire hour seems as wasteful as throwing a week’s worth of fresh groceries out with the garbage. Indeed, free time with nothing to do can generate near panic among those who are overloaded and time-starved.

“We seem to have a complex about busyness in our culture,” says Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul. “Most of us do have time in our days that we could devote to simple relaxation, but we convince ourselves that we don’t.”

And yet, the harder we push, the more we need to replenish ourselves. As Stephan Rechtschaffen, author of Timeshifting, says, “Each of us needs some time that is strictly and entirely our own and we should experience it daily.”

The importance of this downtime cannot be overstated. It helps us see more clearly, hear more keenly, become more inspired and feel more alive.

On some level, we already know this. But claiming time to ourselves—time that is often labeled “unproductive”—and sticking to it can be difficult. We need to establish formal boundaries around our idle time to ensure that others—and we, ourselves—honor this time.

Here are some tips for respecting your idle time.

  • Make a date with yourself. Get to know someone who deserves your attention—you.
  • Stand firm. Learn how to say “no” to co-workers, children, a spouse or a friend. You may say “yes” in many other ways, but NOW is your time.
  • Be clear about your needs. It’s not, “I need more time to myself.” It’s more like, “I’d like to spend 20 minutes by myself in the morning before everyone gets up.”
  • Be on the lookout for stolen moments. Use the canceled dental appointment to sit on a park bench watching the clouds float by.
  • PRACTICE doing nothing. “Doing nothing” is an art—like all art, you need to practice it to reach your highest potential.

Optimal idle time varies by individual. For one person, gardening may be meditative downtime, whereas for another, it is one more item on the to-do list (to be done as quickly as possible or avoided at all costs). For some, the woods can be is a great place to stroll and commune with nature. For others, the woods is just another place for a power walk dictating emails.

Idle time should be like a beautiful flower: it just exists, seemingly without purpose. And yet, its sight and scent refresh and remind us of nature’s glory.

Start doing things that have no purpose other than joy. Take a half-hour a day to surprise and delight yourself. Keep it simple and consistent. If your idle time becomes a “program,” or becomes progress toward some productive goal, wipe the slate clean and begin again.

The power of idle time is breathtaking in its simplicity.

Author’s content adapted under license, © 2008 Claire Communications

 

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About djwlifecoach

As a coach, author, speaker, singer, artist, consultant, radio host, Reiki Master and EFT/tapping practitioner, I share hope, possibilities and empowerment with the world. What's love got to do with minimizing stress and getting unstuck? Everything! My book, "Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!" (Hay House/Balboa Press 2013) shares my story and the stories of 10 of my clients along with my signature Discovery Framework. During my 30 years as an organization transformation consultant, I served as a senior partner in four of the world's largest, most prestigious global professional services firms. In 2005, I took a five-year sabbatical to find healing and peace because non-stop work had taken its toll. My recovery from burnout, including a sustained 80-pound weight loss and freedom from 10 years of debilitating depression, led to finding my purpose guiding others on their journeys. Through healing and self-exploration, I discovered that loving yourself unconditionally is the key to transforming your personal life, your work and the world. With attention and intention, I learned to live in alignment with love through a wealth of energy-shifting tools and techniques that help me reduce stress, anxiety and overwhelm by releasing limiting beliefs, emotions and habits. My books, blog, radio show and signature coaching programs help individuals and organizations harness the transformative energy of love to turn unexplored possibilities into fulfilling realities and step into their greatness. To learn more about my work in the world, visit djwlifecoach.com. Subscribe to my blog at tiny.cc/djwblog. Listen to my radio show at tiny.cc/djwradio. View my author video and book trailer at tiny.cc/djwauthorvideo and tiny.cc/djwbooktrailer. Access 40+ tapping resources at tiny.cc/djwtaps. Send email to deborah@djwlifecoach.com. For fun, I love singing, reading, sewing, knitting and movies. I live in Williamsburg, Virginia with my husband, Wilson, and the three coaching cats who manage my life—SiddhaLee, Mortimer and Maisy Jane.
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One Response to The Importance of Idle Time

  1. Pingback: Guest Post: The Importance of Idle Time - iaplifecoaches.org

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