I can’t stress enough the importance of downtime. And this is the time of year when you can practice taking some and remember how good it is. Turn off your internet (but not until after you’ve read this article). Put away your smartphone. Tell people you have gone away and can’t be reached. Go away and be unreachable. Read a novel. Catch a fish. Build a wall. Cut the grass. Go to a concert. Invite your friends for a bbq.
And do these things whole heartedly. Don’t be checking in. Don’t be planning next week’s to-do list.
And here is an interesting idea I got from a commencement address given by David Foster Wallace shortly before his death – don’t be the center of your own universe. Or at least consider the universe that you inhabit – whether its your family or your job or your town – and look at it afresh and consider your position in it and where it fits with everything else and what everyone else in it is doing and feeling and what the opportunities are and what your dreams are and close your eyes and let them fly.
DFW tells the following story: “There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”
So go think about your water. What is your water? And where can it take you. Go read the inside of your eyelids and see what they tell you.
It is summer. Give yourself a break. All the stuff you have been thinking about and fretting about and staying awake about will still be in there, but it will be sorting itself out in your unconscious. It will be making connections you couldn’t make if you were trying. Let it simmer and percolate.
Put on the calendar the days you will be taking off and go camping. Or hiking. Go on, challenge yourself. There is nothing like some serious walking to keep you concentrated, focused. You think about your feet and your water bottle. You think about your food and the awesomeness of nature, or you think about how waterproof is your poncho and where you will pitch your tent. It is completely engrossing and it is a wonderful way to put the cares of the workaday world aside and sort themselves out without your conscious interference.
Give it a try.