Last week, I did a poor job of taking a Sabbath. This week I made up for it by taking most of Saturday and Sunday off. It was a little easier to do since I was camping with my family. On Saturday, I enjoyed being tech-free sitting by the fire or in the hammock for most of the morning and even the earlier part of the afternoon which consisted of taking a nap, reading a little, playing guitar, prepping for dinner, and canoeing with my wife and friends who joined us for the day. Most of it happened without a schedule, as I had no urgent tasks and no agenda. Time passed slowly and the nothingness allowed for total relaxation and even some mindless mental wandering.
I suspect that some of the problems we have with anxiety and workplace stress could be alleviated simply by taking regular pauses. Author and happiness expert Julia Paulette Hollenbery calls it productive pausing and she offers some great suggestions in this article: https://metro.co.uk/2021/12/11/how-to-master-productive-pausing-and-get-more-done-at-work-15754392/
Below are some of my suggestions for productive (and even nonproductive pauses):
· Set daily parameters around your technology use. For example, between 8pm-8am, disable email notifications and don’t refresh your inbox. Leave your phone a room away (or more) from where you sleep.
· Schedule time for a longer tech detox once a week.
· Include daily thinking breaks in your day. For example, take a short walk around your office or outside to think about a problem you need to solve or to generate an idea.
· Only schedule meetings when absolutely necessary and give yourself 15 minutes in between Zoom calls and other meetings both to summarize the meeting and take one action as a follow-up.
· Before scheduling a meeting or attending one, ask yourself, “Is there another way to communicate this information.” Not all meetings are time wasters, but many are.
· Make time every day to do “nothing.” For example, often times on pretty days, I will just sit on my deck without a book, my phone, or laptop. I also do have “do-nothing time” by walking regularly on the trails in the woods across from my home.
It can be difficult to justify taking “nothing” time. However, the benefits are as tangible as other things you might do regularly. If you are like me, you will have to really fight to have “nothing” time. But “nothing” moments can produce something – creating new ideas, making time for a reset after a difficult phone call or meeting, increasing your heart rate for a few minutes, or having a mental escape from your grind – all in the name of doing “nothing”!