The Art of Doing Nothing
After the Great Shutdown, the day-to-day work experience has changed for many people, including myself. Instead of waking up early to battle rush hour, I can start my day with yoga, a walk, or even cooking a healthy breakfast. In other words, the Great Shutdown gave me time to do more during the workweek, not less.
The strange shift in my schedule had me excited and ready to be productive. Sadly, I didn't consider my energy balance and the cost of an "overdraft". What I am describing is called energy currency. The concept is similar to a checking account at a bank. For example's sake, let's say my energy balance is at 100 points. I usually spend 75 points throughout the workday, leaving roughly 25 points for house chores like cooking dinner or washing clothes. How I spend the last 25 points of energy is crucial since the balance will be zero once spent.
I began to add more house chores into my daily routine and chase a few long-term goals. I was spending my last 25 points of energy throughout the day rather than later at night. I started to notice an adverse change in my energy as I continued to live my adjusted schedule. Instead of waking up with 100 points of energy, I only had 85 points. A few weeks later, only 75 points.
Essentially, I was lowering my energy capacity by mismanaging my time (leaving myself unable to recharge). One specific change I noticed was the love of cooking had been replaced with resentment. A creative experience had somehow morphed into a chore. I started to order more takeout and eat frozen food, which further lowered my energy.
By the time I was ready to plop myself down on the couch, I felt so drained that even my relaxing time had become tiring. No matter how much I slept, I woke up exhausted. No matter how long I relaxed, I was still stressed.
I realized that I'd created quite the conundrum for myself, but I wasn't exactly sure what had gone wrong. I could only see the error in my ways after I felt under the weather (it wasn't COVID, whew). After sleeping all night and late into the next day, I woke up with more energy than I had even weeks before falling sick.
I spent the following day lounging around, desperately trying to extrapolate the root behind the newfound reservoir of energy. That's when it hit me. When I fell ill, I took two sick days and had nothing on my To-Do list. I planned on doing nothing but resting, which had alleviated the crushing burden of stress.
How can doing nothing be the answer when the fear of failing feeds my anxiety. Then it hit me; I was over-paying for specific areas in my life while neglecting others. I'd consistently stretched my measly 25 points too thin to cover my overlooked healing habits of leisure.
The following week I booked "relaxing time" into my schedule and forced myself to disengage from outside noise. Not only did I become more productive at work, but I also felt more optimistic when I faced tedious activities such as washing laundry or cleaning the house.
If you asked me a year ago what was more valuable, energy or time, I would have said time (since I can't ensure I will have as much time as I want). Now, I would say energy because I can't control the passing of time, but I can control how I feel throughout the journey. In closing, audit how you spend your energy and then ask yourself, is it worth it?
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