Stress is on the Rise
According to the American Institute of Stress, absences from work due to burnout are rising, with large corporations losing as much as $3.5 million per year due to this. From Steve Jobs to Albert Einstein to Marie Curie, scheduling solitary “do-nothing” days has proven to be exceedingly beneficial. Not only is dropping everything good for business, there is a wealth of medical and emotional advantages to this type of relaxation. It sounds crazy, but having a “drop-everything” day once a month or so can make a huge difference in your quality of life and your productivity.
How to Drop Everything
This isn’t about scheduling a trip to Tahiti or a yoga class. If you’ve ever felt stressed or overworked, it can be tempting to make your “me-time” a drink, a television show, or a formal vacation. But dropping everything means exactly what it sounds like. It’s a day where you do absolutely nothing. It sounds counterintuitive to “plan” for nothing, but here’s how you do it:
Put it in the calendar: It’s much harder to be protective of your time when you’re dropping everything, but you need to make this activity known as an event—to yourself, and to others around you. If an entire “drop-everything” day isn’t possible for you, try setting aside at least 4 hours.
Disconnect: No phones, no friends, no computer, no television, no work, no play, no sleeping. This day is about reflecting, thinking, hoping, and planning (but no to-do lists!). It’s amazing how removing your go-to distractions can change the way your mind works.
Pay attention: You might choose to wander around somewhere outside. You might sit in a comfortable chair. Wherever you end up, make it a point to observe and notice your environment. We spend so much time rushing from one thing to the next we often forget to truly see the world around us.
Note your desires: Once you’ve quieted the noise of your commitments and obligations, see where your thoughts go. Often, breakthroughs and new insights occur when we have solitude. See what themes keep cropping up and follow the trails of thought. This phase can be extremely uncomfortable for some people who are not used to being alone with their thoughts, but clearing the mind is like working out a muscle—it gets easier over time.
Don’t rush it: You might think you’ve had enough nothing at an hour or two and you might start to feel guilty. Fight this! The biggest revelations often occur long after we’ve grown tired of “practicing” nothing.
Of course, the thing about doing nothing is that it eventually turns into something very meaningful. Some might call the above exercise “mindfulness” or meditation, but it helps me to think about simply clearing my mind. Successful people everywhere have engaged in these types of habits for years, so why not give it a try? You literally have nothing to lose!