I love days like today, where there is nothing that I “have” to do, and I can focus on the things I want to do. I had a dentist appointment in the morning, and after that my calendar was completely open. No meetings, no deadlines, nowhere to go, and nothing to do.
Days like this are rare. I usually have something work-related going on every day, whether it’s teaching a yoga class, writing an article, or working at my part-time job.
Still, I take care to ensure that I don’t end up a victim of busy-itis. You know, those people who are always “soooo busy,” said as if it’s a badge of honor to never do anything except work, clean and shuttle your kids from one activity to another.
Being constantly busy is soul-crushing. We all need time to think, to rest, to simply be. Our culture, however, encourages incessant busyness. If you’re like me, you grew up hearing adults say thinks like “Idle hands are the devil’s playground” and “If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean.”
As a writer, I need time to daydream. I cannot simply summon good ideas at a moment’s notice. Yet, when I worked as a writer for corporations, it was often expected of me to do exactly this. Sitting quietly and thinking were perceived by others as me goofing off.
At one of my previous jobs, a coworker told me that an executive remarked in her team’s meetings on more than one occasion, “What does Cheryl do all day, anyway?” as if writing content for product packaging, brochures, the company website, and the like all just happened on its own. I was soon laid off from that job. I suspect the other executives eventually agreed that writing is easy, takes very little time, and that anyone can do it.
In a way I’m thankful, because not long after that I found the courage to take time out from my own busy schedule to really think—dream—about what kind of life I wanted, and I started working toward that goal. I earn less than half the salary I used to make at that corporate job, but I am infinitely happier.
I know I’m very fortunate. Some people don’t have the luxury to worry about anything other than finding their next meal or shelter from the cold. I also have a wonderfully supportive partner who encouraged me to pursue my dreams. I don’t take any of these things for granted.
If you have a decent job and a roof over your head, give yourself permission to do nothing on occasion, to goof off, to be idle. Here are some of my favorite ways to recharge my batteries.
- Take a nap
- Watch a marathon of a favorite TV show (Bones, anyone?)
- Experiment with recipes
- Walk the dog
- Play a game (I’m loving Candy Crush Saga these days, and Scrabble is a perennial favorite)
What are your favorite ways to not be busy?
Image by mike@bensalem on Flickr.