Doing Nothing At All – 1

What do you do when you know you “ought” to be doing something, but really don’t feel like doing anything at all?

Here’s a sample..and very common scenario:

I’m tired after work, and I’ve got several things I could attend to. Work on my book, paying bills, cleaning the house. But like I said I’m tired – really tired! I want to take a nap. But here’s the thing. Taking a nap just seems like a waste of time – shouldn’t I just be getting to work? Well OK I’ll just read some of my e-mails. I can do that while I’m laying down right? Take care of some business while I relax. Oh man that’s a funny cat video.

By this point we’re lost. No more work will be accomplished, we can be sure. Or if it is it’s going to be insanely inefficient. Where did I go wrong? Was it in feeling tired? Was it in deciding to read e-mails instead of doing something more productive? Was it the cat video?

I think it was in none of these. Where I went wrong wasn’t in what I did – it was in how I reached the decision. Or maybe more accurately – I went wrong because I never really reached a decision, except as a way of avoiding anxiety. I “half-work” and “half-relax” …I try to compromise… and as a result I feel neither productive nor relaxed.

There’s a lot at play here. We can talk about what got me to this state – and it’s interesting stuff. But let’s assume I’m already here. Tired, listless, lacking direction. What is the one habit I can inculcate to help me in this scenario? I think it is two steps:

1) System Reset
2) Make a Firm Decision

System reset can be anything. It can be going for a walk, working out, taking a nap, meditating. What to do as my system reset is actually the first “firm decision”. The second firm decision could be “eliminate all my junk mail before I’m done with work” or “finish this blog post”. Or, once I’ve reset and I’m thinking clearly, it might be “take the evening off to read a book.” The important thing is that it’s a clear and conscious decision and not an avoidance mechanism.

By doing this I’ve trained myself to maintain direction when I need it most. The question is – can I make this a habit?

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