Time is arguably the biggest luxury. Why have wealth if you have no time to enjoy it? Why wait until we retire to dabble away at what we enjoy in the expanse that time affords us? Most people get two weeks a year to do as they choose and weekends if they are lucky.
In Tim Ferris’ book ‘4 hour week’ he seems to have found the answer and in his wake thousands of people have followed. He gets asked most often “but what do you do to bring in an income?” It seems he does bring in plenty of money to live and enjoy his life, but he manages it, by being efficient with the time he spends on ‘work’. The rest of the time he travels, lies on beaches, became a kick-boxing champion, a Tango champion etc. He values his time and will do anything within the rules (just) to release as much of it for himself as possible.
He has turned the creation of time and space into a fine art. He defends his time assiduously. He has got himself into the position where he owns his time and no one else gets a slice of it without his say so. He wasn’t born wealthy, not particularly bright, but he is cunning. He taps into the creative thinking part of his brain to design his life. www.designyourlife.com He worked out what he wanted to do with his time and he did what he had to, to achieve the results he was after. First he worked out what would give his life meaning, purpose, engagement and pleasure, then he set about carving out his time to suit him. He created ways to have an automated income that allowed him not to have to work for any more than 4 hours a week, but to be able to do it, in any location around the world.
He says we can all do this. Most creative people understand the importance of empty space in their lives, time to mull, chew the fat, daydream, gaze. It is in this space our best ideas come. When our lives are stuffed from morning to night there is barely a moment for contemplation or inspiration. Clever organisations like Google and Pixar recognise their workforce is a lot more brilliant at coming up with new concepts or original solutions when they haves places to go and play, think, snooze, and loiter.
But many people are terrified of not being ‘busy’. They want to fill up time with as much activity as possible, most of which is non-essential. They are scared of time, scared of being bored or lonely or being faced with difficult questions like ‘what the hell am I doing with my life?’ The idea of taking a day to just do ‘nothing’ is like jumping out of a plane without a parachute. White space in the diary? What’s that they ask, no way, I am far too busy for that. With what?
Tim challenges us to think about how we would spend our time if money were no object. He wants to pin you down to explore what really matters to you. He asks you to imagine you had a heart attack and your doctor told you you could only work on something for two hours a day or you would die. How would you spend those two hours? What is absolutely essential to you? He wants you to eliminate everything that isn’t necessary, doesn’t inspire you, doesn’t fulfil you, is not essential.
People argue that they must stick at their jobs until they claim their pensions. But there are no guarantees of jobs for life, or that your pension with be worth anything when you come to claim it, or that you won’t pop your clogs the week you finally stop work, from years of accumulated stress.
Maybe Tim Ferris’ plan isn’t for you but Neuroscientists are having a field day researching the benefits on the brain, of timeout through mindfulness and meditation. They’ve tested drug-addicted prisoners, the depressed, the traumatized, the world-weary, the workaholics, teenagers. You name it they’ve studied it. The results are fairly conclusive. Give your brain the chance to slow down, notice the insignificant, observe emotions with detachment and it gradually starts to rewire itself; from hyper-frenzy, addiction, negativity to acceptance, calmness, control. Timeout is a sure-fire self-optimization tool for the super-technology age, a practice as old as time itself. The only difference is now we know why.
For Scientific American, Ferris Jabr writes about the benefits of mental downtime, whether it takes the form of naps, daydreaming or meditation.
“What research to date also clarifies, however, is that even when we are relaxing or daydreaming, the brain does not really slow down or stop working. Rather—just as a dazzling array of molecular, genetic and physiological processes occur primarily or even exclusively when we sleep at night—many important mental processes seem to require what we call downtime and other forms of rest during the day. Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life.”
If you want to get creative with how you spend our time then work with coach Lou Hamilton to rethink your life. Lou@createlab.co.uk
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Coming soon Lou ‘s collection of 200 drawings in her new book Brave New Girl- How to be Fearless. A must for all the girls and women in your life.