Of late, I’ve noticed that my down time has vanished.
I wondered why and when the answer presented itself, it was simple and yet profound.
It’s not because there’s more work on my plate. There’s always a ton of work to be done. No. I realized one day, the real reason is because every bit of down time that presented itself, is filled with something else.
Every spare moment, minute, or hour that’s not spent actively doing, I’ve filled it. By:
- Reading a book
- Listening to podcasts
- Watching a webinar
- Catching bits of a tutorial
- Reading RSS feeds
- Reading a magazine
- Watching TED videos
- Consuming that course that I bought weeks and months ago
- Just about anything I can think of
In short, I’ve been filling those precious bits of down time that pop in throughout the day, with other people’s ideas. Others’ processes and thoughts. There’s an intense need to catch up or finish every book, listen to every audio, learn everything there is to learn.
Somehow, I’ve come to be afraid to spend time with my own thoughts – even if it’s a few minutes.
The idea of sitting on the porch without a book makes me restless.
The very thought of doing laundry without having something to listen to makes me anxious.
I have a sinking suspicion I’m not alone and have a theory why we do this. Because we:
- Have such great ideas that are dying to bust out, that we feel intimidated by them. Afraid they’ll take us to amazing, yet frighteningly unknown places. So it’s just easier to crowd them out.
- Are postponing or ignoring a big decision that has to be made.
Sometimes, it’s a combination of both. So we cram our thinking time with lots of information and ‘learning’ to avoid making the decisions we really need to make, or avoid doing.
I’m not saying that reading, listening to podcasts, watching videos and learning from others is a bad thing. Neither am I saying that utilizing your spare moments such as commute time to learn something is unproductive. It is productive. That’s how I managed to lose weight and keep it off – by reading, listening and watching others while I worked out.
However, we do need to leave some of those moments for our own thoughts. Perhaps even go as far as scheduling thinking time if you want to be intentional about it. Thinking time doesn’t require you to have anything in particular to think about. It’s about giving your mind some breathing room.
Thinking time is important so we don’t feel like we’re on the go all the time. Thinking time is required for us to process all that great information we read. It is needed for us to formulate plans. It is healthy for our spiritual and mental well being which is so important for us business owners.
I challenge you. Next time you are waiting in line at the doctor’s. Next time you have a few spare moments in between tasks. Resist the temptation to read, listen or watch. You can read at other times but for at least one down time a day – spend it with your thoughts.
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