This is a message that I need to hear more often. Even in my semi-retired state, I still feel the drive to be productive and “get things done” every day of the week when my body and mind might actually benefit from “doing nothing,” or taking a day of rest, if you will.
If I could benefit from doing less, there’s no doubt that many of my readers, most of whom are busier than I am, might also be recharged with a down day from time to time.
What does it mean to do nothing? I mean, we can’t all be John Lennon or Brian Wilson lying in bed day after day after day.
Leif from Five Year FIRE Escape explain what he means by “doing nothing,” and why he’s made it a goal of his to have a do-nothing day each week in today’s Friday Feature.
“What do you want to do this weekend?” A few years ago, I would have answered this with a bunch of impressive ambitions like finish a book, write some code, or do laundry. Now, my number one ambition is doing nothing.
So today I want to break down how this ambition came about for me, how to do it right, and why doing nothing actually will actually help your performance.
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5 thoughts on “Doing Nothing: The Best Goal for High Performers”
The art of doing nothing is quite hard to perfect, but I try to remind myself that non-productive days are essential. In today’s society, the pressure to be doing something is immensely high and thus the feeling that you are idly sitting around is often frowned upon. However, if all you do is run, you will never appreciate what is happening around you. Thanks for the read, Leif.
I must admit – i see myself in this article… the pressure to do “some” things each day to whittle down the to do list of honey-do items around the house, organize a lifetime of photos, start writing my book before I forget the great stories, etc. Even planning on finishing a book, from the 4 shelves of books I still have waiting, so I can read the next book I just bought, seems to weigh on my mind. But you’re right, taking a bike ride or a walk w/my spouse brings other things to mind and seems to relax and recharge me in the moment. It lets me enthusiastically plan to get more done tomorrow! I really should plan on days off in retirement!
I read this post originally on his site, and it’s a good reminder to slow down.
I’ve been grinding away writing my book for Penguin Random House, as the first “finished draft“ is due in mid November. It’s a lot of work and it reminds me of the time when I went to business school part time while working in banking. But eventually, it’ll be over and I’ll feel like I am just easily swinging one bat instead of two.
What is it that you are busy doing every day and semi retirement beyond managing this site?
Writing a book is on the list of things I’d like to do when I’ve got less going on — I really don’t know when that might be.
This fall, our travel has been local. I’m on the 2nd of 3 monthly trips to Minnesota (11-hour drive from our home in Michigan). Spending time with my parents and brother and meeting up with friends in Minneapolis, tailgating and going to football games at my alma mater.
Next month, we spend a couple of weeks in Florida, and we’re anticipating getting our youngest vaccinated in the month of November, thankfully. Then, we’ll feel comfortable traveling internationally — we’ve got plans to spend half of December in Mexico and all of January into early February in Europe, spending 7-8 days each in Athens, Malta, Sicily, and Rome.
Then I’m off to Phoenix for WCICON22, and taking the family one-way to Tokyo in early March. Plans are open-ended from there. When we get back in the spring, our contractor will start building our new home on the lake. The last few weeks, I’ve been on the lot clearing small trees and brush and having nice bonfires.
It’s a different kind of busy, but I enjoy it, and I feel the experiences have been great for our kids. They love traveling, too.
In terms of “getting things done,” it’s doing all the things that need to be done to keep this site humming. I do have some help, which I appreciate immensely, but you know all that goes into managing a website and its associated social media, etc… I squeeze it all in between the other things going on in my life.
Wow! That’s quite an itinerary! Have fun! We will be staying local. They still love just being home.