Doing nothing may actually result in getting more done

Beth May (graphic)

Beth May (graphic)

From the moment your feet first hit the floor in the morning, it’s go-time. Getting showered up, fed, and off to school or work seems to dominate the daily grind. As the day pushes on, there are a few intermittent moments only long enough to grab a coffee and recharge your dwindling energy supply.

After that it’s back on the bus or into your car, to continue checking off that never-ending to-do list. Once you’re home, it’s time to get to work on that ridiculously large pile of laundry and the Kraft-Dinner-and-ketchup-caked dishes. I mean seriously, who else is going to do it; your mom? Nope, she’s busy turning your bedroom into that long overdue craft room.

As each year goes by, daily life appears to get busier and busier, with the list of things needing to get done getting increasingly longer. We are bombarded constantly by the media on ways to manage our time better and get more accomplished, while at the same time, doctors and scientists (and student-press columnists) are always publishing new findings on the importance of proper sleep.

So how do we do that? Get more stuff done, and still get a proper amount of sleep at night so we can have a productive next day? It seems as though we are caught in this endless hamster wheel of doing. Don’t you miss the days when after school you got to come home to a snack on the counter, and all you had to do until dinnertime was play outside?

Now, there aren’t even many of us that know what dinnertime is. For most of us, it’s eating something cold out of a stained plastic container while en route to our next destination. When do we just get time to do nothing?

According to Andy Puddington, a public speaker and expert in being mindful, we are so busy being busy and working at things that we deem important that we don’t take the time to do maintenance on the one thing that should come before all other things; our minds.

In Andy’s TED Talk, called “Ten Mindful Minutes,” he discusses how cluttered our minds have become and how people are consistently lost in the thought of what is going on in their life and what they have to do next. He talks about how many people bandage this problem by staying busier, as to avoid confronting the clutter, and others turn to substance abuse to block it out altogether.

His solution is to just do nothing for 10 minutes a day. You’re not emailing, texting, or even mentally doing your shopping list: nothing. You are sitting with a blank slate of a mind for 10 minutes. He discovered the incredible value in this technique when his life became so overwhelming that he quit his degree and headed to the Himalayas to become a monk.

Himalayan monkhood is probably not a viable option for most of us, and many people don’t like the idea of sitting on a mat humming with mediation. But there is an easy way to get the same result. Sit in a comfortable chair, and make your moment of silence the priority. Quiet the mind, and shut out the world; just sit in the moment, and exist.

One could think about it in terms that our minds are similar to a computer. Every now and then, we stop what we are doing with it, empty out the caches, and de-clutter the system. After we do this routine maintenance, it runs better than ever. Who wouldn’t like their mind to run better than ever, especially if we could do it in just 10 minutes a day.

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