Nothing to Do and That’s OK With Me

I’m finishing up the first month of my sabbatical and I’ve intentionally not set any big goals or projects in front of me. The last thing I want to do is treat this break from work like I treat my work! So for the past month I’ve mostly chilled out.

I did spend 10 days on Kauai, but even that was very spontaneous and every day just unfolded as it needed to. Not much in the way of planning went into that trip. I had a permit for a few nights of camping and figured out the rest as the days rolled by.
Fast forward a month, and this morning my brain was sorta freaking out, feeling like it didn’t have a focus, I was rudderless and life was passing me by. I just went back to bed and that fixed things up really quickly! Amazing what a cure sleep can be.
Nowadays I’m quite content doing yard work, riding my bike around town fetching groceries, cleaning the house, reading (a lot) and going for the occasional run or hike. I’ve also starting learning more about how to properly use the fancy digital camera I bought last year. I now know that the “intelligent auto” setting is decent but far from suitable for many shots I aspire to take.
I’ve been surprised how my mind/body has been anxious at the prospect of not having a big project on the horizon, meetings to attend or a big to-do list, but I suppose that is the experience I needed to have this past month and I’ve learned to accept that.

You Have Enough Time

You have more than enough time in your life to do whatever you want to do.

If you think about the number of hours in your life, and then think about the small fraction of those hours so far that have been spent doing things that are worthwhile, memorable or generally fitting with your life goals – it’s clear that there is more than enough time available.

Still don’t believe me? Set a timer for 20 minutes and sit down on the floor. Do nothing but focus on your breath the entire time. Tell me that 20 minutes doesn’t seem like forever!

Time does seem to get crowded out with the mundane. Taxes, laundry, commuting, showering, changing diapers, etc. These things need to get done. That’s not the point. The point is to not let these things crowd out the time available for the remarkable things.

If in a given workday, less than 20% of your time is spend doing real creative work (with the rest spent browsing Facebook, gossiping with co-workers or procrastinating by ‘doing email’) – than why not try to make better use of the other 80%? The same goes with school or time at home in the evenings or weekend.

It’s not an issue of not having enough time. The real issue is lack of creativity in learning how to eliminate things that waste your time and a lack of courage and decision-making skill in actually eliminating those behaviors once you identify them.

On the flip-side, it’s also about picking some things you do want to spend time one. When you focus on the remarkable things, the unremarkable gets squeezed out.

The other day a student in my yoga class asked me how I have enough time to work at Microsoft and teach several yoga classes a week…let along train for ultra-marathons and triathlons – on top of other things I do.

There truth is that there really is no secret.

I just don’t let “not having enough time” become a reason for not doing something. In my experience I’ve found that when I am doing things I like, the time organizes itself to work things out. When I am training a lot, I find I am more efficient at work. When I teach yoga in the evenings, I make sure meetings are quick so I can real work done and leave the office on time.

I also have little patience for people who abuse my time repeatedly – through unfocused meetings, requests for information that they have access to themselves, etc.

I do think the key insight here is to start with the mindset of having abundant time in your life to do whatever you choose. From this mindset, you’ll eventually find ways to fit everything in that you want to fit in. It may take some creative thinking on your part, but that is part of the fun.

Galapagos seal pup says hello!