What to do with empty time

Apologies for quoting Martha Beck yet again, but this article was hugely eye-opening for me.  In it, she gives some advice detailing exactly what to do with any amount of found time so that you’re prepared to use it wisely and not fritter it away on little tasks that do not rejuvenate you at all.

I mostly have a minute or two here and there that I almost always spend looking at e-mails or reading blogs.  Every so often, I’m going to try this instead:

If you have one minute…

Go limp. Settle into the most comfortable position possible. Inhale deeply, hold your breath a second or two, then relax your body — especially the muscles in your face — as you exhale. Become aware of any physical sensation you’re feeling. Your body will repay the gift of oxygen and relaxation by becoming calmer and more energetic.

If you have five minutes…

Forget everything. Jot down a quick to-do list, and let it be your “task memory” so you can let your mind roam free, like a toddler exploring a room. Patiently and non-judgementally, watch where you mind goes, what it says. Then go back to your to-do list. You’ll find that you feel as if you’ve had a brief but refreshing vacation.


If you have an hour…

Find a reason to laugh. Read a funny book; call your silliest friend. If you’re too stressed or sad to laugh, let yourself cry. Both behaviors release physical and emotional tension, connecting your mind, body, and circumstances. Laughter, in particular, has been shown to improve immune function, strengthen relationships, and brighten your mood in almost any situation.

If you have a free afternoon…

Disappear. Don’t call on the people you “should” visit. Don’t do the cleaning project that would make you the perfect homemaker. There will be time later for doing; this afternoon is for being. Roam your favorite places: shops, libraries, parks, country roads. Drink in all the beauty you find. Tell no one.

If you have a whole day…

Live it on purpose. Start by reminding yourself what you want your life to mean. Take one small step in the service of your purpose. Then give yourself a gift (a wind chime, a lipstick, a dance to your favorite song). This will remind you that receiving and giving are inseparable and put you in the zone where you simultaneously forget your ego and remember who you really are.


5 thoughts on “What to do with empty time

  1. Naomi,

    I love how your divided out the empty time: from moments, hours, afternoons, to full days. It really made me think about how I spend my time. As I commented before, time is a major issue for me. I want you to know, I really admire how you write meaningful posts and share them every single day. That, my friend, is a huge accomplishment. Especially how you post every day. Be very proud. It is something I aspire to do. I anxiously await to read your words on Friday.
    Enjoy the day and savor every moment.

  2. reading this post was a mini vacation,
    or I should say,
    letting it read me:)
    so much refreshing goodness it feels like playing in a fountain
    (on one of those free afternoons)
    thanks for the nourishing share,
    (and I could spend an hour with those stones beneath the ripples! Beautiful!)

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