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Advice: Do Nothing

How is your schedule?

If you are like the rest of the people I know, you either:

  • Rolled your eyes,

  • Snorted,

  • Laughed,

  • Said, “Don’t ask,”

  • Had a dark cloud come over your face,

  • Or took a deep breath.

Feeling pushed to the max is the number one response I get nowadays when I ask someone about where they are with their writing and work. Work meetings, office hours, classes, research, writing, commuting (back at it!), home life, kids, schedules, and more can all add up to a size 12 foot in a size 10 shoe.

I can appreciate how the pace of the 2020’s, exacerbated by the Pandemic, has pushed people to the limit. But let’s assume you still want to, or at least need to, write. Where can you find the time? How can you ensure it is your best work?

My advice is: Do Nothing.

Yes, you read that right. Overscheduling can lead to paralysis, low quality writing/work, or lack of focus. So, of course you do have to write. You will find and make time. But before doing so, find downtime. I really mean downtime. I don’t mean, less busy time or TV time. I don’t mean sitting in your car while your child is at soccer practice and listening to a podcast.

When you take a walk (which I hope you do for your health), take the occasional walk by yourself. No earbuds in. Soak in the alone time and the opportunity for a reset. Schedule time in your office, with the door closed, and just process your current research or idea formulation. Try it. I am not saying once a day for hours.

When your holiday breaks arrive, see them as a true break and not just relocating your workload from the office to home. Make some time to just, well, be.

This may sound fantastical, I know. But the benefits outweigh the pinch it will put in your other activities that day or week.

Clarity and direction come only after some reflection and processing. You can’t come to this by penciling in “Thursday, 4:00 to 4:30: Reach clarity.” It requires you to let your mind pause, and then recharge.

It may sound strange but doing nothing may be the most productive step you can take toward creating your best work. Start with a half an hour or hour walk every couple of weeks. Then see what your tolerance is for this meditative act. I am sure it will pay dividends in the long run.

Reprinted from the TAA Blog post:


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