Dixie Darr

In creativity, Learning, spirituality on May 31, 2007 at 9:29 am
Take a break

“Your unconscious can’t work when you are breathing down its neck.” Anne Lamott Bird by Bird

Last night I tutored a 52-year old college student on her writing skills. She was frustrated because she earned a B+ on her latest paper and wanted to earn an A. She worked very hard, spending virtually all her non-work hours on her schoolwork. Unlike some students she didn’t seem to think that she deserved a higher grade because of the amount of work she put into an assignment. She sincerely wants to learn how to write better and is diligently using all the tools available to her, including me.

I applaud her for that. It sometimes seems to me that the students who need the most help are the least likely to seek it out.

Her husband, who accompanied her to our session, kept telling her she was working too hard, that she needed to take a break. Every time he said that, her mouth would clamp shut and she would glare at him. She was raised to be a hard worker, she said, and her response to any problem is to work harder.

Clearly, she is one of those people who can’t relax. WikiHow has a cure for that with their tutorial on How to Do Nothing. Here are some of their tips:

  1. Plan ahead. Set aside time to do nothing and put it on your calendar
  2. Let people know. Tell everyone that you’re unavailable.
  3. Find a quiet, private place. This might be your bedroom, the backyard, or a local park. Find that place and go there.
  4. Set your alarm. Set an alarm of some kind to go off when your “nothing” time is over, so that you don’t have to constantly look at the clock and count the minutes.
  5. Turn off the phone. Turn off your cell phone, work phone, pager, PDA, Blackberry, computer and any other means of sending or receiving calls or messages. These distractions will only keep you from enjoying the nothing.
  6. Sit by yourself. Feel the wind, the sun on your face. Listen to the rustle of the trees, birds chirping, water flowing. Avoid the temptation to turn on the TV, listen to music, write a note to yourself, get a bite to eat, or anything else.
  7. Learn how to free up your mind. Clear your mind of all thoughts of work, worries, family, etc.

Serious workaholics will have to start with five minutes and practice until they can regularly do nothing for longer periods. Taking time off will increase your productivity, creativity, health and morale. Even God rested on the seventh day.

© Copyright 2007 Dixie Darr. All rights reserved

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