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Why you should add ‘nothing’ into your schedule

If you are struggling with slowing down there’s something that might be missing from your schedule. It’s called – ‘nothing’. By adding nothing into your day I guarantee you will feel more relaxed, less anxious, and you will be more productive.

I am a type A personality, a perfectionist, with an unhealthy habit of making very long to-do lists. To-do lists are great, but if yours are anything like mine, they seldom get finished. And unfinished to-do list are a recipe for insomnia for us type-A’s!

A day filled to the brim with an endless list of jobs and meetings can be satisfying, but it can also be soul destroying and exhausting.

A few Saturdays ago, I had a day just like this;

7:00        wake, get kids and myself breakfast (this first hour was the most relaxed part of my day, from here on in, things got, well – cray cray)

8:00        take the dog for a run

8:30        put first load of washing on

8:45        get kids ready to leave house (just picture trying to prod a snail to win a race)

9:00        head to chemist to pick up prescription and get 8yr old’s ears pierced!

9:30        supermarket

10:00     playdate for 3yr old

11:30     slink away from playdate after 3yr old has a rather serious toileting calamity (sorry about the carpet Jenna!)

12:00     make the kids lunch

12:30     load of washing # 2

1:00        welcome 8yr old’s playdate – attempt to keep the peace between the two 8yr olds and my 3yr old who just wants to join in, whilst trying to sort washing, pay bills, edit some writing,     start prepping dinner and maintain sanity.

3:00        leave to take 2nd playdate home

3:30        back to the supermarket for the bits we forgot the first time (congratulate myself for only having been twice so far)

4:00        finish prepping dinner

4:30        head out for workout with a friend and more exercise for the dog.

5:30        cook dinner

6:00        greet friends for dinner (while the introvert in me is saying “we’ve seen too many people today”) and attempt to engage in meaningful conversation

8:30        collapse and feel exhausted looking at my mostly un-actioned to do list

There were three main problems with this day.

  1. I didn’t schedule any down time – I didn’t take care of myself by taking 10-30 minutes with a cup of tea and book.
  2. I overloaded my schedule and didn’t allow for any time in my day where I could do nothing.
  3. I underestimated how long each task would take, this resulted in running late for every part of my day. Dropping the 2nd playdate home took 20 minutes instead of 5 because I chose to connect with the mum. But the result of this was having to txt my workout buddy to say I would be late, which resulted in a late dinner and grumpy kids…!

What if I’d mindfully thought about my day and decided to insert two 1 hour slots of ‘nothing’? I would probably not have been running late for everything. I most likely would have felt calmer and less stressed. I would have had time to sit down for 10 minutes and readjust to avoid the inevitable exhaustion and dissatisfaction at the end of the day.

Thinking mindfully through my day would have allowed me to more accurately judge how long each task might take. This would naturally have resulted in me realising that a) I wasn’t superwoman, and b) I needed to drop some items on my to-do list.

And of course, the ultimate benefit of approaching my days like this will be less anxiety and stress, more balance and more time to do the things I love with the people I love.

Keep in mind that ‘busy’ is subjective. What looks busy to one person could look slow to another person. You might have read my schedule above and thought it looked like a piece of cake! Conversely, you might have thought all these things should have been spread over a week.

What is your personal threshold for ‘busy’. Which is more manageable – 12 to-do items or 3? Or, somewhere in between? Intuitively you will know what your personal threshold is, it’s the sweet spot, where you end the day feeling accomplished but relaxed.

My challenge for you this week is to insert some nothing into your to-do list/schedule. I’m sure you won’t regret it!

Maybe you’ll even have the luxury of scheduling a whole day to do nothing!