Boring Is Fun - So Is Being Unproductive
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.” -Henry David Thoreau
By Del Singh - Millennial Milk
My goal for 2017 is to do less.
Less consumption. More creation.
Less news. More optimism.
Less food. More exercising.
Less buying. More giving.
Less talking. More listening.
Less social media. More of anything else.
Less booze. More water.
Less Netflix. More sleep.
Less complaining. More accountability.
Being busy has become something to brag about. Taking on more responsibility has become a self-inflicted requirement from the “embrace the grind,” “embrace the hustle” attitude.
Get shit done.
Is that what you really want? Or are you just listening to the world?
Schedules are packed with meetings, meetings about future meetings, happy hours, dinners and obligations we reluctantly commit ourselves to.
Doing less to make room for more. More for my priorities — the things and people that are important to me. I’m aiming to create alignment between my actions and purpose. This involves doing nothing on the weekends, having no plans, taking on less responsibility at work. . .
All while living a fulfilling life.
Boring is a Virtue
When’s the last time you were bored? I mean really bored. Not the type of bored where you aimlessly browse your Instagram feed.
I’m talking about internet-free, activity-free boredom. Like you don’t have a connection in your doctor’s office and the magazines available are shit. Oh, here we go. Nurse is coming. . . What the fuck! Why was that other guy called?! I got here before him!
Time tends to expend as rapidly as a water faucet when you’re busy. Friday comes around and you’re stoked for the weekend. Your weekends are packed of fun activities and on Monday you complain the weekend went too fast, and pray for the upcoming Friday to come as quickly as possible.
I’ll get looked at with envy when I explain to people my lack of plans for this upcoming weekend. “No plans? That’s awesome. I love those weekends.”
Here are three things I’m doing to take back my time, accomplish less, all while staying fulfilled.
The next big thing. It’s almost as trendy as being busy. Mindfulness is the kryptonite to busy. You might have heard of this trend that’s sweeping the nation. Mindfulness practices derive from Hinduism and Buddhism and has hit the western world like Psy’s “Gangnam Style” (2 billion+ views by the way).
Being mindful requires you to slow down. It’s a practice that asks you to do one thing at a time. As I’m writing this post, I’m writing this post. I could care less about social media, the news, or what I’m doing tonight. I am in this post.
Your self-awareness heightens during mindfulness. And you don’t need a retreat to practice mindfulness.
A couple simple Mindfulness practices
1. Mindful eating
This is an introduction to mindfulness
Put the phone down and eat your meal. Look at your food. Smell your food. Observe the texture of your food. Listen to yourself eating. When you catch your mind wandering or thinking why you’re doing this stupid exercise then re-focus your mind back to eating.
The purpose of the mindful eating exercise is to sync your mind, body, and hunger to your food.
2. Mindful exercising
Take out your earbuds and listen to your body while you’re exercising. Feel your legs propel forward, or arms fighting gravity to push the weights up. Feel your body get tired as you slow down during your workout. Listen to what your mind tells you as you get fatigued, or when you tell yourself to push forward. Most importantly, pay attention to your breath!
I’m going to be another asshole to tell you to step the fuck back from all things digital for a weekend.
I’m not here to tell you that your life is going to be better with less technology (it probably will). I’m here to tell you that it’s fine to have less technology in your life. It’s hard when attention is currently the most valuable commodity and everyone and their mother is fighting for your attention.
Digital cleansing practices
1. Set designated times to review social media and email.
2. Delete apps.
3. Create restrictions on certain websites. StayFocusd is useful Chrome extension for this.
4. Leave your phone at home when you go to work.
5. Read a book instead of browsing the web.
6. Call instead of email or text.
7. If you’re going to be hardcore then opt out of anything with a screen for a weekend. Do this once a quarter. Start this on 5pm on Friday to 5am on Monday.
Do you catch yourself checking social media for no reason other than you have nothing to do? You probably can’t even take a shit without taking your phone with you.
I use solitude to think, write, and listen. It’s close to dead silence as I’m writing this paragraph. I hear my fingers hammer down on the keys, birds chirping in the background that cause a sense of peace. I’m looking out the window, watching the waves of Lake Washington, smoke emerging from a chimney and birds flying above.
I’m accomplishing nothing aside from writing this article. I’m not worried about being in hustle mode.
I’ve achieved a sense of peace being by myself in the current moment. I’m fucking chillin and it feels amazing. When I’m done writing, I’ll continue my work on nothingness by going for a walk or staring out the window.
Benefits of solitude
1. Get to know yourself better
Be with your thoughts. Listen to what your inner voice is telling you.
2. You get to be yourself
No one will be judging you when you’re by yourself, being yourself. On a side note, you shouldn’t care anyways.
3. Brain reboot
When the reboot is finished you’ll be ready to take on whatever comes at you next.
You can still be motivated and ambitious. It’s a matter of what ambitions and motivations are most important to you. There’s a secret battle going on. It’s a battle between yourself and the outside world. The outside world is telling you to do more at work, buy more things, and become an entrepreneur.
The outside world is telling you to be productive and stay busy. Otherwise you won’t be relevant.
Although the Gary Vaynerchuk lifestyle works for Gary himself, it might not work for you. It doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t mean I’m not ambitious or motivated. It also doesn’t mean I won’t be a “success.” Success is a relative term and to me, it involves doing less to create more time to do more of the things that align with my values.
As you embrace the grind and hustle, I challenge you to ask yourself why you’re doing all the things you’re doing. Is it because it’s expected of you by others? Or because you’re fulfilling your natural calling?