My Attempt To Do Nothing

Sunset over Golden Gate Bridge.
Sunset over Golden Gate Bridge.

Last week on Monday was the first day of my unpaid leave / sabbatical. The plan for the first week was to recharge and “do nothing”. Let’s see how I did.

My definition of “doing nothing” was to have no commitments to others and instead at any time do whatever I felt like doing.

I think it was a success. I only had one appointment which was a spa pampering appointment and a lunch with a friend which I wanted to have sooner rather than later.

What did I do?

It was glorious to have an empty calendar! Somehow the ability to do stuff leisurly gives a feeling of luxury.

I rediscovered how happy it makes me to just sit with a big cup of tea and read. I ended up doing it for an hour each morning. It felt very luxurious to be able to read as long as I wanted and not having to rush anywhere.

Even doing such simple things as shopping for groceries and cooking felt good because I did have time to look up recipes, decide what I wanted to cook (without the pressure that it had to be something that is quick to cook) and then without a rush head out to grocery store and then cook it.

I loved that I could take long walks and wander around the city. The walks ranged from half hour to almost two hours.

I loved that I could wander around bookstores as long as I wanted.

I could spend hours going down the rabbit hole of reading about some topic on the internet.

Because I was home I also ended up doing laundry and tidying.

I did travel planning for upcoming trip; writing/journaling daily and caught up with few friends.

I did NOT look at my todo list, I did NOT try to answer all email, I did NOT open Facebook the first thing in the morning upon waking up.


In the end, I do feel recharged. Also, I think my attention span is longer. Before I couldn’t sit still and read for half an hour, now I can read for more than an hour. Now I am also less distracted by Facebook and news. I feel calmer, less stressed. I am content and happy.

What’s next?

By not having a todo list and no “I should do this or that”, it starts to become clearer what I feel like doing.

In the last week what I ended up being drawn to again and again, was tidying up my place, reading blog posts about Marie Kondo’s Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and reading her second book Spark Joy. Her tidying method involves first getting rid of things that don’t spark joy and then finding a home for each item.

If I have been focusing on activities that make me happy, it seems only fitting that I also surround myself only with the things that spark me joy.

I have lots of ideas of what I could do in the remaining 7 weeks of my sabbatical, but it is too little time for all of them, especially if I am traveling. So I will take one thing at a time. Also that way I can stay true to what I feel like doing. If I commit to something now for the last week of sabbatical, maybe by then I will have different and better ideas.

So my second project of the sabbatical (let’s say the first project was a week of “doing nothing” 🙂 ) will be completely tidying up my place using the Marie Kondo’s method.

It will probably take at least a few weeks, because this week on Thursday I will be heading out for a ten day roadtrip with Matt.

February 13, 2017 @ home in San Francisco

It’s time for another sabbatical!

Snow at Sugarbowl in Tahoe few weeks ago.
Snow at Sugarbowl in Tahoe few weeks ago.

Today is the first day of an eight week long unpaid leave from work, or as I will refer to it: sabbatical. Other people may call it mini-retirement; for example, Tim Ferris says: why take all of your retirement at the end of your life, when instead, you could take mini-retirements throughout your life.


For fun.

And because I can.

I am switching teams at work and if I am going to take time off, the best time to do it is between switching teams. Think of it as taking time off between jobs. In 2013 I took a three month long unpaid leave to travel around the world and it was such a blast with so many benefits, that it was no-brainer to do one now as well. I am very grateful and privileged that my company allows us to take months of unpaid time off.

The plan.. or rather, no plan

My previous sabbatical was very carefully planned three month long around-the-world trip.

This time, I have nothing planned out! Things were very busy at work, so didn’t have time to plan anything.

But that’s OK. I have always had more ideas for things, projects, and places to do than the available time so I am sure I won’t be bored.

The first stop: recharging

In the first week of my sabbatical I will attempt to “do nothing”.

Several people have asked me whether I ever do nothing. I am not sure what in other people’s minds is the definition of that. For me it is definitely NOT watching TV all day long (though documentaries or TED talks probably don’t qualify as “TV” even though I might watch them on a TV screen instead of a computer monitor).

For now I think for me “doing nothing” means having no commitments to others or  anything, ie. no appointments and no to-do lists, and instead allowing myself to do what I feel like doing. I will elaborate more on it later once I will actually have experienced it.

February 6, 2017 @ home in San Francisco