We pretty much live in a go-go-go, do-do-do society. If we are not being productive, somehow we are letting ourselves and the world down. This credo is true in both our personal lives and our professional lives. So, we cram our to-do lists with more than can be accomplished and then get frustrated or feel bad because we are not doing enough.
The trouble is, we don’t live in a two dimensional world – it’s a 3 dimensional world (at the very least) and it’s driven by quantum physics. We live in fractal-like loops – looping paths with a forward momentum that both revisit and retrace some previous path while also creating a new one while in general expanding.
My argument is that to do anything we must have times of not doing – a cyclical process of thinking, doing, thinking, doing and so on.
Without the periods of rest, the doing suffers – we do tasks badly because we are tired, we do projects in the wrong way because we didn’t plan or we, perhaps worst of all, complete activities that shouldn’t be done or don’t really need doing at all.
The time management process should be more like a teeter-totter – a process of going back and forth between doing and not-doing. The doing time is about accomplishment, growth and progress. The non-doing time is about thought, reflection and appreciation.
Both sides are needed to live your best life. That is key – both have a purpose. It’s not a situation of doing being ‘good’ while not-doing is ‘bad’, but rather an interdependence. It’s a reality that you must spend time on both for either one to exist. If we fail to appreciate the value of not-doing, we just burn out on the doing side.
We have this strange disconnect between thinking we need to constantly do and what we really do – which is to drop out – or down in front of the TV or Internet and feel guilty about what we are not doing. We crash and burn and more importantly, we don’t think, reflect and appreciate enough.
Instead, realize and plan for the not-doing time. Reflect on what you’ve done, think about what to do next and how to do it and appreciate each accomplishment. You will, in the end, do more – better quality, higher value, better-return-on-time-invested activities.
Sometimes, it is important to do nothing and just be thought full.