I’ve been wanting to record this podcast for sometime. And the time is now.
Well not completely.
But certainly a lot more free days, than work days. Here’s how I did it.
First, you need to be convinced. It’s the same for any big change in life – if you aren’t convinced, it won’t stick.
Consider this: we are supposed to be hard working, making money, results-count machines that grind out the work. Right?
Well, sort of.
The reality is that all work and no play makes for… (I can’t remember the rest, but it sounded good when Mom said it). You get the idea: we need down time.
You can’t slave away on your keyboard and keep expecting brilliant results. In the same way, you can’t let work bleed into your home life (you with home offices beware) and not expect some push-back. Down time is not just no work time. Down time is when you engage in a completely different activity that recharges you.
Maybe it’s counter-intuitive, but doing less can create more. When I take a three-day weekend, pack it in at 3:00PM, or go for a long-walk in the middle of a writing project, I’m better because of the break. My mind is ready to go-at-it again, my body can stand sitting for another 30 minutes, and I feel good about doing work.
So, get convinced. This is a lot more than nice-to-do – your non-work breaks should be as essential as drinking water (you do drink water, don’t you?).
Next, you need to find fun, engaging, single-tasking non-work activities. The list is long: gardening, walking the pooch, swimming, playing “Country Roads” on your guitar (only 3 chords), reading the latest Dan Brown…
This summer my list included:
- reading Lee Child novels (Jack Reacher will save the world, one bad guy at a time, with a folding toothbrush in his pocket).
- learning to ride the unicycle (great workout to boot!) with one daughter.
- memorizing songs on my guitar (I figured I’d look pretty lame in front of the bank playing from sheet music).
- paddling my surfski (I came third last weekend in the 2013 National Iron Championships in Vernon, BC, OK there were only six surfskiis competing, but still…).
- running with Riley (the dog).
Once you have a non-work activity you need to experiment. The BIG QUESTION is: when is the best time for my non-work activities? I know I need to have some kind of workout first thing in the morning (that’s one non-work activity). My evenings are for reading, guitar, family, and chill time.
You may find that you need time mid-day as well, or more time in the mornings. It all depends on when you go to bed, wake up, and when you need a break.
Once you have the activity and you experiment with the times and duration, it’s time to make this a habit. Author, Harvey Mackay summed up the power of habits with; “Good habits are as addictive as bad habits, and a lot more rewarding.” Here’s a quick summary of my lesson on how to create good habits. If you want to go deeper on habits, The best resource I have enjoyed lately on this topic is Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit.
Secret to changing habits (this is my modified version of what Duhigg recommends):
1. Get clear on what you don’t want/do want. (what habit do you want to stop, or what habit do you want to start).
2. Identify the reward you get from your current routine (for example, when I keep on working I feel smug that I am getting more done than other people)
3. Create a new routine (for example, I will make a short list before going to bed, set my alarm for 6:00AM, and start on that list as soon as I wake)
4. Reward it (I will feel great crossing that task off my list, I will keep track of my exercise for a month…)
There you have it – turn on non-work so you can rock the rest of the time (and go buy a unicycle).
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What about you? What non-work time do you plan for and how’s it working? (share so we all can learn)? Add your comment below.