I’ve written about my morning journaling routine once before.
But my journaling–think of it as freezing thinking on paper–isn’t limited to mornings. I use it as a tool to clarify my thinking and goals, much as Kevin Kelly (one of my favorite humans) does. The paper is like a photography darkroom for my mind.
Below is a scan of a real page. Both entries are from October 2015.
The first entry (top half) is simply a list of “fun” things I felt compelled to schedule after the unexpected death of a close friend. Since I’ve ticked all of the bullets off. You’ll notice that I blurred out a few sensitive bits, and I won’t spend time on this entry in this post.
The second entry (bottom half) was written in Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco after a two-hour walk. The gestation period during walking and subsequent entry lead me to re-incorporate “deloading” phases in my life. “Deloading” is a term often used in strength and athletic training, but it’s a concept that can be applied to many areas. Let’s look at the sports definition, here from T Nation:
A back-off week, or deload, is a planned reduction in exercise volume or intensity. In collegiate strength-training circles, it’s referred to as the unloading week, and is often inserted between phases or periods. Quoting from Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning: “The purpose of this unloading week is to prepare the body for the increased demand of the next phase or period,” and to mitigate the risk of overtraining.
So, how does this relate to creativity, productivity, or quality of life?
First, I’ll give a personal outcome — In the last 12 months, I’ve used “deloading” outside of sports to decrease my anxiety at least 50% while simultaneously doubling my income.
Deloading for business, in my case, consists of strategically taking my foot off the gas. I alternate intense periods of batching similar tasks (recording podcasts, clearing the inbox, writing blog posts, handling accounting, etc.) with extended periods of — for lack of poetic description — unplugging and fucking around. Oddly enough, I find both the batching and unplugging to free up bandwidth and be restorative.
The unplug can still be intense (here’s a personal example in Bali), but you shouldn’t be working on “work.”
Let’s dig into the journal entry, as it provides much of the reasoning.
I’ve provided the scan (click to enlarge) and transcribed the entry below it, including many additional thoughts. The journal itself (Morning Pages Workbook) I explain here:
Now, the transcription with revisions and additional thoughts:
– TUES – SAMOVAR @ 5:40PM –
The great “deloading” phase.
This is what I’m experiencing this afternoon, and it makes a Tuesday feel like a lazy Sunday morning. This is when the muse is most likely to visit.
I need to get back to the slack.
To the pregnant void of infinite possibilities, only possible with a lack of obligation, or at least, no compulsive reactivity. Perhaps this is only possible with the negative space to–as Kurt Vonnegut put it–fart around? To do things for the hell of it? For no damn good reason at all?
I feel that the big ideas come from these periods. It’s the silence between the notes that makes the music.
If you want to create or be anything lateral, bigger, better, or truly different, you need room to ask “what if?” without a conference call in 15 minutes. The aha moments rarely come from the incremental inbox-clearing mentality of, “Oh, fuck… I forgot to… Please remind me to… Shouldn’t I?…I must remember to…”
That is the land of the lost, and we all become lost.
My Tuesday experience reinforced, for me, the importance of creating large uninterrupted blocks of time (a la maker’s schedule versus manager’s schedule), in which your mind can wander, ponder, and find the signal amidst the noise. If you’re lucky, it might even create a signal, or connect two signals (core ideas) that have never shaken hands before.
For me, I’ve scheduled “deloading” phases in a few ways: roughly 8am-9am daily for journaling, tea routines, etc.; 9am-1pm every Wednesday for creative output (i.e. writing, interviewing for the podcast); and “screen-free Saturdays,” when I use no laptops and only use my phone for maps and coordinating with friends via text (no apps). Of course, I also use mini-retirements a few time a year.
“Deloading” blocks must be scheduled and defended as strongly as–actually, more strongly than–your business commitments. The former can be a force multiplier for the latter, but not vice-versa.
So, how can one throttle back the reactive living that has them following everyone’s agenda except their own?
Create slack, as no one will give it to you. This is the only way to swim forward instead of treading water.
Did you enjoy this? Please let me know in the comments. I’d also love to hear of how you “deload,” if you do.
If you’d like more on my morning routines, here are five habits that help me tremendously.
As always, thanks for reading.
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)
194 Replies to “Why You Need a "Deloading" Phase in Life”
You’re output has been incredibly valuable to me in the last 6 months (since I ‘discovered’ the podcast), so thank you for all of it.
Not scheduling deload yet but clearly need to.
I’m also intrigued to see Carl Paoli’s name in your journal. One of the nicest, humblest coaches/people I’ve met. Perhaps there’ll be a podcast…?
You are sooo right Tim, I use these “deloading” periods also; it became self-evident after I had experienced a burn out a few years ago. I think the experience has tought me something 😉
Hey Tim, I appreciated the article. I love the idea of freezing thinking on paper and have also found the deloading period extremely valuable. Have you read Julia Cameron’s the Artist Way or her follow up book, Walking in This world. Both are about writing morning pages, having artist dates, and the deliberate scheduling of walking. The first time I walked into the woods deliberately, in the manner she suggested (and you) I was hit/overwhelmed emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually by what emerged on my walking journal. What emerged wasn’t frozen on the page, but it was frozen into my soul, my energy system. Also, I’d love to interview you as part of the company I am building (Freedom’s Edge: Awakening You to Your Highest Self and Purpose in Life, Love, Career). Reading your 4-Hour Work week and your blog has been a part of my businesses development. Thanks for all you do, Tim. Much appreciated.
I might be wrong, but it looks like he is writing in one of Julia’s books, Matt
Hi Matt, Good to run into you on Tim’s blog! He mentions some things about Julia’s stuff here: http://fourhourworkweek.com/2015/01/15/morning-pages/
I am at a stage in my life where I am reflecting deeply upon my journey in this life so far. I have achieved some beautiful achievements so far and hit some hard lows also. I turned my life around during a period where no light was visible. I give thanks for the inner strength and light within, that I couldn’t have known existed during that time. I am at a place in my life now, which I can only describe as the “re-birth”. I separated my ex-partner last year October, I am living back at home with my Mum, and I have just today literally handed in my notice at place of employment.
I am messaging you now at this point in life where I turn 30 years old on Sunday, because I want to take a new direction in life. My goal in life is simple. I want to be happy. Happiness to me looks very much like self acceptance, inner peace, becoming a more compassionate being, connecting with others, supporting development within myself and others.
I have so many goals I want to achieve in this life. I want to become a successful entrepreneur. I want to begin charitable kick starter programs for people who lost sight of their inner light. I have always been told by family, friends and teachers growing up, that I have the potential to achieve anything in this life. Sadly, everyone knew this except accept for me.
Change is hard, and the re-birth has been painful. But I know now, not to give up on myself. I met a beautiful human being, who has taught me the most lesson so far in life. This was that true love, firstly comes from within. Since last year November I have lost 55 pounds, quit smoking, become a pescetarian, practice yoga regularly as well as meditate.
I have to be honest with myself now however and accept myself for all my flaws, as well as my qualities. Some really painful, honest, yet liberating reflection has been going on. I wanted to let you know that your story and commitment to yourself has been inspirational Tim. I aim to inspire determination, motivation, confidence and self-belief one into others. It’s a beautiful gift to inspire others.
Have a beautiful life Tim!!
Holy smokes Luke, I relate to pretty much all of that as I’ve just begun my own journey on this path. I too have taken too eating better, yoga and meditation. Now looking at day planning and journalling as I need to step up my game and more fully commit, breaking my old habits is hard and painful at times but there’s no way of going back. I’m excited by what the future holds as well as fearful of the amount of work involved in turning my life around, but I’m excited by that too.
Go Luke, go!
Thanks for sharing. I’m going through a similar period, I feel it is re-birth, but being a perfectionist all my life (and still) it is so hard to come to terms with the fact that you are hitting the down turn. I don’t know how long it’ll last, but I do know that I feel I cannot keep trying to continue to live my life with the same mentality I did before (even though that brought me a certain amount of success, stability as expected by society). I started a business, left a marriage, now in a new job which I can’t settle in and can’t contribute value to. It’s tough, but I do think if you choose to live life and experience its fullest either the good or the bad, in the end it’ll be worth it.
Maybe it’s writers’ thing – thinking on paper?
It’s like brain’s extension. I can’t think clearly without it. 🙂
“I feel that the big ideas come from these periods. It’s the silence between the notes that makes the music.”
Loved the sentence.
It seems like your writing is getting…I don’t know interesting. I love reading it. The way the words, phrases come together. Almost like music. It has some rhythm, melody almost.
Anyway. I can’t live without deloading 🙂 It always happens naturally. I never plan it. Always been like that. Maybe it’s more female thing. Not sure.
When I deload I allow myself to do whatever it is I want to do at the moment. For no reason at all. I might sing, dance, go fencing, go bunjee jumping, watch cartoons and comedy, paint or play music – it’s a surprise always. I’m a pro-wanderer :)))
Recently I started to love wandering around the city really early in the morning taking pictures. Love it.
With training it’s the same. Training hard and then rest periods. Sometimes more gym, sometimes more yoga, sometimes dancing. I guess body just needs different “movement” nutrition.
It’s just the nature of life.
Up and down.
Active and passive.
Loud and quiet.
I used to feel guilty for those deloading phases. A-type personality.
But now I learned that in the end it makes life that much better.
Movement nutrition really rang for me
It’s not only my idea Thomas. There is a science behind it too. 🙂
Great book about it, you might be interested in: “Move Your DNA”
“Move Your DNA explains the science behind our need for natural movement – right down to the cellular level. It examines the differences between the movements in a typical hunter – gatherer’s life and the movements in our own. It shows the many problems with using exercise like movement vitamins instead of addressing the deeper issue of a poor movement diet.”
I have a talent to just feel things intuitively. And usually a bit later I find out the science backing up my intuition.
I absolutely loved this. Always a great read!
My issue with deloading is that I feel like I haven’t done enough yet to consider any rest period “dealoading” or better yet, to responsibly deload. I’m still at the very beginning stages of building the life I want and I tend to fall into anxiety and depression periods, periods of self doubt that if I indulge in for too long lead to procrastination and lack of productivity. Hopefully some day soon I’ll be at a place where I can justify and responsibly execute a deloading phase.
I used to.think.that I had to reach the big goals too. But instead of deloading why not call it refreshing? Recalibrating? Having a fun weekend? You might get insight into why you are procrastinating. Maybe there is legitimate concern. Or you might just restore.energy. I took a day too see friends today even with job hunt on go. Massive stress to.get. Came back feeling refreshed and with a couple new ideas to approach some roadblocks
Enjoyed this post Tim. Longtime reader.
For me it’s work days and flex days. I work from home on both technical and creative projects, so I keep a pretty tight schedule on work days to provide myself some structure, including output quotas (billable hours, word counts, etc.) and a fixed routine.
I try to take at least three “flex” days a week (usually weekends and at least one weekday), with no fixed schedule and no self-imposed quota. Sometimes I work on creative projects, but only when inspired. On these days I try to focus on rest, recuperation, getting outside, and connecting with friends and family.
Thanks for sharing your “life systems”!
Wood Stove or Weed Store?
This post deeply resonates with me. Especially, the past year and a half have been the intense phase for which I am looking forward to in a month and a half ” to unwind or recover”. I just recently “discovered” Mark Twight and found fortuitously among his writings the following phrase: “Many will work hard. Few treat recovery with equal discipline. Do it and surpass. Don’t and plateau. It’s simple.”
Thank you for the reminder.
This idea of uninterrupted blocks of time to focus intently without distraction sounds very similar to Cal Newport’s ideas on deep work, including what he calls “Productive Walking meditation”. It would be awesome if you could get him on your podcast time. Your guys’ previously differing approaches are rapidly converging.
Yes, I love this type of post. I love hearing what other people do to create a successful life. Thanks for sharing!
I love that you wrote down Carl Paoli, that guy is awesome. I love the things he is doing outside of the crossfit world. Especially if you’re trying to get better at handstands and planche.
I loved this post. What I loved most about it and something I didn’t consider is scheduling deloading blocks and defending them strongly. I think that is super important. The way I deload is skateboarding. I put some headphones in, find somewhere I can push or an empty parking lot and just try to feel the wind and concrete.
I just landed in Costa Rica yesterday to start my annual “attempt to deload” vacation. To put it nicely, It’s fucking hard work to take my foot off the gas.
This is my 3rd deload trip so far. I usually take 6-7 weeks to backpack around a 3rd world country. The idea is to get away from the hussle and bustle of city life, live a different style of life than I normally do and see how other people live their lives. Ideally I find a quiet small beach spot with no internet and nothing to do and I force myself to sit there for a week.
Also to practice a different way of life other than my vice-based norm. I go for 4 weeks with no alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and orgasms. It sucks, but sometimes it’s important to do things we don’t like.
But here’s the thing Tim, I still work. I get a sim card with internet and I still answer emails. I’m not at the point in my businesses where I can afford staff or competent people to take care of things. If I took a 7 week break, that is a 7 week delay of getting to my vision for my business, and I’m just not ready to do that yet. I’m driven to see it to completion.
I expect that one day when I finally figure out how to create a passive business that I’ll be able to truly let go. But I may just be kidding myself. Any thoughts on this Tim and the Tim-people? Anyone else have similar experiences?
Hi Jamie, your comments resonated with me. I think you hit the nail on the head that you’re kidding yourself. I know because I kid myself. Isn’t that the illusion?? You say “When I figure out X, I’ll be able to truly let go.” In reality, if you got hit by a car and died today, you’d let go. If the person you loved most said, “I need you by my side right now, I have terminal cancer”, you’d let go to be with them. It’s the same for me, Jamie. Do you think cultivate a “practice” of letting go would help you increase your daily happiness? My therapist always has my cultivate practices. It’s enormously helpful to determining the type of person I want to be. I told her I struggle with being monogamous. She asked “Do you believe in monogamy?” I said “yes.” She said “Then make monogamy a practice.” it’s been liberating.
I too have used the morning pages for going on two years now. It has been an invaluable resource for “clearing the clutter of the mind” and brain-dumping pent up subconscious thoughts that lay dormant.
I’m wondering your thoughts on the dichotomy between:
1. Brain dumping and being the impartial observer of your own thoughts, analogous to the practice of mindfulness meditation.
2. Taking control of your thoughts, steering them toward mindsets or states you feel to be beneficial.
Can these two approaches live together simultaneously or do you believe you need large chunks (like this post outlines) where you choose one or the other?
Thanks for taking the time, as I know this is the post precious resource that we all have.
Great post as always Tim. For me I schedule blocks of time usually in the pre-dawn hours and Saturday mornings that are absolutely non-negotiable. I invite the various people that I see frequently so that they know not to disturb me during these periods. They usually range from 1 to 4 hours.
The tools I use to enhance this are:
1. My Pendleton Journal (high quality paper)
2. Evernote – to jot down things throughout the week to review during these deloading phases; the reminder function is excellent.
3. Fantastical – it’s a great iOS calendar app
Thanks for all you do.
Very well said, Tim. I find my output directly proportional to a) how much I plan my day and b) how much time I schedule to deload.
Great post, it resonates.
It might inspire me to do more to de load, and hopefully extricate myself from the time consuming monster I have built, (Not that I don’t love it), and build something a little more profitable, that allows me a little more freedom.
For me, I’ve just got to get out of my environment. Jump in the car, early in the morning, and just drive. I can feel the pressure easing, the further I get from home.
If I take a day off, and stay at home, I’m just haunted all day by things I should be doing.
Must try that morning journal thing too.
Amazing post Tim, thanks. Loved reading your journal again. It’s reassuring and practical, like a letter from Seneca, and cool to see I journal in a similar writing style.
For those who haven’t read it The Power of Full Engagement is a great book, with similar themes to this post. I’ve used it to undulate through opposite phases of intensity and “deloading” throughout my workday. I find it helps me better manage my energy and separate the essential few tasks from the urgent many.
Yet I still struggle to let myself take a full deloading phase (be it a day or few), despite how much Stoicism or Tim Ferriss I read. I know it would make me more effective and happier, yet still struggle to justify it. I’ve been in an intense period for months. Soon, I hope, to unplug.
I really like how you put this:
“The former can be a force multiplier for the latter, but not vice-versa.”
I keep trying to push myself to get as much done as possible in a day but you’re right, deloading would help you get more done in a day.
My brain knows this but it’s not the easiest thing to put into practice.
Absolutely critical to schedule some RECOVERY so we can tap into the Higher Self and/or The Universe and hear the messages.
I also think there’s a direct correlation between how hard we can push ourselves and the need for recovery. I talk about this in my 3X Your Productivity Book available for FREE on my site.
“Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax.” -David Allen of Getting Things Done
Sometimes you read an article and it captures perfectly what you haven’t been able to put into words.
Thanks for writing this, Tim.
I’m taking a creative sojourn to Europe soon for around 5 months where I hope to generate some big ideas. This is a bigger deloading phase than what you suggested, but the intention is the same.
Genius. Something I try to live by and so happy to see it reinforced and expanded on by someone I admire (you).
Yes. Thank you. Whenever I do this, i feel guilty for not doing what is expected and promised of myself or I feel like it’s mindless procrastination. Perhaps it is.
Now I have permission. I just need to be more mindful of batching then coasting, or perhaps drafting (to steal a term from swimming it biking). It just has to be a choice.
Your Article is always genuine and inspiring. I’m just starting to build my muses, escape 9-5, design my lifestyle, join the new riches.
Wish me luck! 🙂
Your articles are always inspiring. I’m just starting to build my museums, escape 9-5, design my lifestyle, join the new riches. Wish me luck! 🙂
There’s this awesome little coffee shop in sarasota called Perq, where they have one of those high-end espresso machines like the one on Bizarre Foods America when AZ went to Seattle. The same baristas (baristos? They’re dudes) have worked there forever and they pull a great shot.
That’s where I go either on Tuesdays or Friday’s to pre-deload. For me, the pre-deloading looks similar to your journal, but I usually do lists in Wunderlist, which I heard about through Matt M on your podcasts so thanks, and sometimes a legal pad if I feel like I need it in writing.
I’ve played guitar all my life and the fucking around part of deloading usually starts with a solo jam session, where I just riff and sing for a few hours. Usually I’ll record anything that I think merits it on Voice memos or garage band on the iPad, after where it then sits forever, which is probably the point now that I think about it, since the environment in which it was created was meant to be one of resultless activity.
The rest of the deload might involve going out for sushi, perusing the freezers at the Asian market in sarasota, walking aimlessly through the craft beer aisles at Total Wine, rummaging through whatever new cookbooks are out at Barnes and Noble, or poking around on the internet doing some non-social media reading.
I started meditating a few weeks ago via Headspace, thanks again, and it seems to help, albeit indirectly, with keeping my focus on the actual deload and not getting sucked back into work related or personal stuff.
Hey thanks for this post, it was a great one. And thanks for the podcast as well. Keep sharing.
Valuable translational concept – Tim. Our work capacity in the gym is not all that different than the work capacity we have outside of it. Deloading work, and other personal commitments makes total sense. thank you!
My last three “deloading” mini-chunks:
Watching 2.5 hours of ’80s TV commercials on YouTube, learning how to make silly GIFs of family members in Photoshop (careful with this one), and leisurely shopping Indian grocery stores to attempt a recipe I found online (careful with this one too).
They’re not all “unplugging and fucking around” in the pure sense, but definitely great mental palate cleansers between moments of focused work, and like Tim said, it definitely helps with anxiety and burnout (especially when you schedule it).
Enjoyed reading this, Tim. I work for a startup in Barcelona, and travel back and forth from the Bay Area. I notice that I go harder, longer for the 2 months there (definitely imbalanced on the work side), and I tend to de-load when I return.
My best ideas come during de-loading, and I would even go as far to say it’s an advantage/benefit for the business, my colleagues, and me. I return sharper, have less mental constraints, and stay fresh overall.
By the way, there’s nothing quite like handwriting in your sacred journal space for opening up the spigots. Bravo.
I’d really like to hear from some people who have been successful in implementing deloading and other of your strategies while simultaneously managing a household with multiple children (3+ kids for a real challenge), jobs, kid activities, etc. To me, the idea of being able to schedule deloading, or even mini-retreat periods (shorter and more local than mini-retirement, in my mind) is absolutely beyond the realm of reality. Yet I feel the strong need to make these things happen… Would LOVE something to chew on in this regard.
Do you know anyone in your life, Brendan, that has similar circumstances, yet, seems to have achieved the deload?
Tim – great reminder to schedule in both downtime and maker time! It’s so easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of the everyday and become defensive rather than offensive. Loving your past few podcasts – I keep thinking they couldn’t get any better – and they DO!! I will be listening to both Cal and Josh again!
I freeze EVERYTHING on paper. I call it my “mind dump,” and do it nearly every day for a few minutes. It usually is some mishmash of ideas, work brainstorms, recalling my main sense of calling in life, and to do’s. I love reading your blog, by the way.
the best statement I have heard in a while ..
It’s the silence between the notes that makes the music.
“It’s the silence between the notes that makes the music.” Love this Tim, couldn’t agree more.
Recently left my first job out of college at Google. Burned the boat behind me to push myself into entrepreneurship & creativity when I could have juggled both, realistically. But I haven’t looked back and regret nothing — and the transition from “corporate” to feeling alive and creative has only been possible because I gave myself 2 months of rest between.
Here’s what I’ve learned, to elaborate on your points:
1. There will be times when we feel “moved” to rest. It’s an intuitive hit but really visceral, the way your body wants to rest after a long day or workout. Say yes to this stillness; it’ll revive you and your creative animal.
2. Inspiration comes in waves. The muse strikes at the oddest hour, and usually requires two steps from you: working/ideating/hustling and then prolonged, deep rest. Sprint and rest. Does this mean we can only get quiet & relaxed enough to “hear” and catch ideas when we’re in play? Or do they come knocking only when we’re at rest? Either way, they have been crucial for my creative breakthroughs.
3. Nature & meditation. Or really, whatever works for you. I’ve found that the “body” sort of knows what it needs to deload, as you put it. It’ll feel drawn towards certain people and no longer others; certain activities and not others; certain places & not others. This may sound woo-woo — but again, I liken it to the body’s intelligent cues like hunger, thirst or desire for rest: our creative animal also has its intelligence. 🙂
I’ve had my own business for 15 years, and always called deloading periods the “quiet before the storm”. It can be scary to stop the frantic busy work of churning through orders, but it truly is when inspiration strikes.
I’m currently listening to “The 4-Hour Workweek” on Audible and loving it. Last week, I shut off the landlines at my office and went completely cellular. I decided that I needed to untie myself from the office, stop responding to manufactured emergencies, and spend more time racing sailboats. Hello Wet Wednesday!
Thank you so much for sharing this info with us – seriously – as a writer in marketing I feel creatively burned out on a regular basis, however recognising that something needs to change – and drastically – these posts just give the most incredible inspiration to work smarter and do better. All the best to you.
Really great post and whole heartedly agree. My Father always said you need to work on your business not in your business.
I am at the airport on my way back to the office from a week in Mayanmar. Had limited email and loads of time for strategic planning 🙂
Hi Tim, just what I was needing to hear this morning.
I know all of what you write, but like so many become lost in the external commitments.
Heading out for a 2 hour trek, non negotiable. 😉
Greatly enjoyed the post Tim.
I enjoy slacking in few different ways, and here are my favorite ways.
(I do not like the word ‘deload’ as it makes me feel I am ‘loaded’ when I am not deloading… well that could be true; I just like the sound of ‘slacking’ more 🙂 )
1) I jump on a train with a book or notebook. Observe people, see what’s going on outside.. read if I feel like it, write down whatever comes up…
(I do buses when I am NOT going to read as it hurts my eyes and puts me into coma; I take buses when I got an audiobook in my pocket (iPod nano) )
2) Walk walk walk… and do the same thing. In this case, no intentional information gathering. No book or audiobook. Just walk, watch things, people. and Write down or record whatever comes up to me that I feel worth logging.
3) I cut out 4 hour block every Saturday morning and stay home, and do whatever I feel compelled to do.
only other rule: put the phone in airplane mode while slacking
Hi Tim, thank you for the post. Enjoyed it very much!
Here are my few ways to ‘slacking’
1) Jump on a train with a book to read, a notebook to write down whatever I feel worthwhile to do so, and a bottle of water.
2) Jump on a bus with an audiobook (otherwise I will get a brain coma and red eyes) to listen to, a notebook to record whatever I feel worthwhile to do so on my phone, and a bottle of water.
3) Every Saturday and Sunday morning – 4-hour block: start at home and do whatever I feel like… listening to the music, watching a documentary, sleep more, drawing, etc.
only rue: turn the phone on airplane mode.
I have a weekly routine called “circle day” (I’m actually in one of those days right now). I take time off from the business, most of the time to work “at” the business. Cut off communication and physical presence. I may be contacted for emergencies only. It gives me perspective and many good ideas are coming from those days.
As un ultra-runner, I also practice something called “tapering” (which basically is the same thing as deloading, slowing down training before an important competition). For instance, before a 200km+ race I take at least one week of tapering, not doing anything related to running, just letting the super-compensation process to unfold.
In business, I declined this concept by transforming monthly events (one of the growing revenue lines we established in the hub I’m managing, Connect Hub) into bootcamps. So, during summer, we will decompensate by traveling to the mountains and attending to workshops in open air. Or something like that.
So true, so important. The older/wiser I get, the more I see how “stupid” the hamsterwheel dogma is.
I just hit 50, read 4HWW, cut my hours in construction to 6 hours per day (11am till 5)…not a complaint from my clients. I’ve set 2 hours from 8:30 am till 10:30 to pursue my “dream” projects, taking at least 1 action per day towards each goal…some unbelievably huge opportunities arising out of this time, though I have to say that 90% of the opportunities are coming through my changed mindset and understanding the power of intention! My deloading time is each day from 5pm…rules are, no work or projects after that time, just reading, selective TV, researching my passions, journaling. 5:30am is “prayerwalking” and meditation/reflection time for an hour, then lattes with my wife…we literally spend up to two hours each day connecting and chatting now, loving the new deal! Thanks for all the inspiration Tim!
Thanks for sharing your personal thoughts in here. I really have to say that you constantly create a lot of value for us on here. I’m especially pleased to see you tested acrobatic yoga!
I totally clean anything that you shared. In times of slack to relax a very stressful military service in the last 11 years. Now getting ready for the future so bright and clear because of the focus that is available have to times. Thanks for being who you are.
Started meditation again. I find that three five minute sessions per day make me more focused and capable than if I tried one 15 minute session. In the last month, I’ve organized and produced work for an art show, written three blog posts and taken part in discussions on three national bodies.
All of this is to say that ‘taking your foot off the gas pedal’ paradoxically allows you to reach your goals faster and with less stress.
The mind, especially, the creative mind, tends to be like a cricket on crack, sometimes it must be allowed to both wander and absorb wonder.
Completely true. It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve learned as a business owner/artist, but now that I schedule time for it, it’s the best thing I can do.
I take the two days after an event off, but if I’m stuck into show season, or it’s a huge show, I’ll sometimes give myself a week. I also give myself a week at the end of each quarter to do some big, top down planning and general playing around in my workshop. Daily, I give myself evenings after dinner and a half hour each morning.
Reminds me of “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” by Daniel Kahneman. We need to disrupt the autopilot of our patterns to recognize changing needs and ways to meet them. Such is not a optional luxury, but an essential responsibility to be able to access advice from every solopreneur’s most important advisor: our own intuition.
Reminds me of “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” by Daniel Kahneman. We need to disrupt the autopilot of our patterns to recognize changing needs and ways to meet them. Such is not a optional luxury, but an essential responsibility to be able to access advice from every solopreneur’s most important advisor: our own intuition.
Great read and the additional comments are of great worth to me. Thank you all
Tim, huge fan and implementer of your suggestions!
intuitively understood manager vs. maker schedule but never saw it defined that way – its a game changer. during grad school, I successfully used deloading + maker’s schedule to get tons of work done with minimal effort and stress. before that it was a struggle and long hours.
for creative work, deloading is an absolute must. sitting around doing nothing and long walks. of course, meditation.
thanks for being an inspiration.
It’s like taking a dump. If there’s some sort of a muddle of an idea, I struggle to know what to do with it. In the past I’ve forced my brain through it, ignoring blockages, but, I think without “getting it all out there” (even if it’s just to myself) I’m blind to other possibilities. Everyone must be different, but I seem to need to push against “how crap can this really get” before I can start seeing the trees from the forest. After the dump though comes the deliberate work. I am more at ease to pursue other possibilities once I’ve exhausted…the other possibilities. Like sitting in meditation, where I let all my thoughts run free inside the void, I come out of it slightly more enlightened, not because I’ve strictly held myself to a specific focused task, but maybe because I’ve allowed myself to experience whatever is happening inside and out.
And then maybe comes some-kind of realization.
(But is there a dose dependent ratio of dumps:ideas/productivity/enlightenment?) 😀
Life is cyclical. Love it.
I’ve been using the “Batch and Do Not Falter” to deload for quite a while now to do exactly what you have described.
As background, I own and run a company that does heavy civil construction in Africa. Using detailed Minutes of Meeting (MoM), I systematically review the four areas of the business every two weeks. I add addendum to the MoM such as financial reports, MoM from project sites, correspondence registers, etc. Every other Monday, I have the Operations meeting, every other Tuesday is Business Development (sales), every other Wednesday is finance and accounting and every other Thursday is corporate development (both Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and corporate hygiene). Often times, I’m the only one that attends the meeting.
I review these minutes on the Monday morning on the weeks that I do not have the meetings. This allows me to map out the week. I also keep a copy of the MoM with me in hard copy so if something comes up, I can write into the appropriate section and thus keep a running “not-to-do” list. As needed, I telecon with employees, consultants and outsourcing companies to review and update the data. If I had a physical office, I would probably pull employees in more often, but I’m happy working from home in Washington DC.
This might seem a bit pedantic, but nothing falls through the cracks and I can actually feel like the entire business is under control. Last year, I was able to take an entire month off to go to Antigua to learn to kitesurf, here in a few months I’m moving to Spain and I’ve recently started taking Sundays off all while expanding to two more countries and raising several million dollars.
Hi Tim, have been inspired for the past 3 years by your strength of character, transparency and creativity. After transitioning to an entrepreneurial lifestyle, I built a community of 200K women over 60 called Sixty and Me. Have made every mistake and made and lots of good decisions. Recommended 4HWW to pre-retirees dealing with ageism and stereotypes to help provide them a reinvention roadmap. Now off to Bali for 2 months. Glad this post appeared to remind me the importance of taking the time to breathe and align with my principles. Thank you so much for your intensity, honesty and insights – and for reminding me that life is short and every moment is precious!
This is something I am just getting on board with. It started with a 4 day digital detox. Woah, I’ll be doing that again. Next, I need to incorporate some of that rest time into my week. This has been a great reminder as you are right, the magic happens outside of the meetings, to do’s and responsibilities. Thank Tim!
I need serious help in the “deloading” area of my life. I am addicted to “pushing life around”. Which has put me in the burn out zone. Thank you for the insight Tim!
Hi Jon, I’m curious what that addiction and being in the “burn-out zone” feels like for you? With all of the successes in the comments, what is stopping you from deloading, once and for all?
Perfect Timing, Tim. I was just struggling with this. Thanks.
More of this, please! It feels so reassuring to peak into your habits and routines, and see something that is even slightly familiar. I often attach anxiety and sense of guilt when I do similar “deloading” phases (though I haven’t classified them as such).
This encouraged me to not only schedule those phases (thanks for that), but enjoy them free of guilt and manufactured emergency (which is kinda the point).
So far, my deloading goes like this:
Journalling after my morning stretch. And this I do daily for almost a year and a half (picked up this habit from my fiancée who is studying to become a Gestalt therapist)
Forgetting about work and researching great content, ideas and possibilities. Which has led me to most of my projects and current income.
Keep these personal updates- very insightful and quite motivational.
Thanks for this post! I started the slow-carb diet in January, and broke 2016 into phases with weight loss goals for each phase – I had planned a vacation after phase one, and it coincidentally aligned with the concept of deloading you’ve discussed – I didn’t worry about weight loss or food for that week, and came back refreshed and renewed to start again – and best news was I only gained 1/2 pound in that process. Me thinks I’ll add a deloading period after each of my upcoming phases 🙂 thanks again!
Great post Tim, somehow your blog always delivers when I need to be reminded of how to stay on track.
Thank you…I LOVE these reminders and appreciate you sharing this in a post.
Out of interest Tim, how often do you take a total deload? Say a week off or a few days perhaps.
Thanks for sharing – this information has provided the much needed gut check for me. Right now I’m supposed to be on my Radical Sabbatical, and some how I’ve allowed too much work and responsibilities to get in the way of what I really want to focus on. Writing and deloading are getting me back on track, and making me a much happier human in the process. Totally enjoy your podcasts and writings! Don’t stop doing what you are doing, you help so many!
I’m inspired and going to implement ‘deloading’ phases into my life. Especially for someone like me, who is constantly battling high anxiety, I think I could really benefit.
Great post, thank Tim!
Did it work Sarah?
Tim, great blog. This line really struck home – create slack, as no one will give it to you. I appreciate the reminder!!
Great post! This is one that m
I am reading with great timing. I think it is especially true to not always be living reactively. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.
I love it. I’ll definitely share with my clients too.
Great tips for utilizing some “deloading” periods! We have to be a little selfish with our time, or else someone else will happily “schedule” it for us!
I had a dream last night that was trying to tell me to do more of this—your post solidified it. Thanks!
Tim, you propose an interesting premise here. Namely, the mind can’t be in ‘reactive’ and ‘muse’ mode at the same time. Deeper implication is how powerful the mind and thinking really can be in an effort to change and upgrade our lives. (decrease anxiety .5 and ^ income 2x) Thanks for so many high-value posts.
Thanks Tim! This is great. I’m starting an AT thru hike in a couple of weeks and I’m going to apply this idea to that. I.e. Taking an extra break before a particularly difficult part of the trail. You’re podcast has influenced so much of this trip. I just want you to know how much I appreciate what you do. I’ve listened to every podcast and read all your books.
Absolutely awesome and super helpful. It’s so easy to feel like the value is in the doing, but the direction-setting is a huge force-multiplier. And that direction-setting comes about clearest during the space between.
Perfect post for me right now, as I was about to try and cram my 90-day planning into 1 hour between meetings. Great stuff.
Yeah, I really enjoyed that. Excellent way to start my weekend 🙂
Another cracker, thanks Tim. 4 years on and you are still helping me develop useful tools to build my online presence – and to nurture my own chill time. I tend to “work” 7.30am – 9.30pm Mon thru Thursday. Then I block All of Friday out for chilling, thinking, audible book listening and planning a few drinks with my loved ones. It’s my way of deloading weekly.
Hi Tim, great article and something which all forget in our grow n grow more life style. I have a quick question..how you keep track all of your physical notes in journal? Do you scan them and store somewhere for search n archive purpose? Would like to know how to keep sanity between physical journal notes and soft notes on Evernote etc. what’s your ritual here?
I saw Ramit Sethi get asked this question. He answered “Life’s too complex. Don’t make it more complex.” I think the point is to journal, not the system that we journal with. Chilling out and doing the best we can with the natural messiness that is journalling has helped me not stress over this. Is that helpful Sunny?
Tim, another gem from you, thanks so much.
Quick question however, and maybe you have covered it off elsewhere before but I want to know about creating more focus.
All these tools are bloody unreal when you can put your mind to the job, but what options are available to those that concentration/focus is unavailable?
And this is outside the obvious ones like meditation, you could say the precursor steps towards achieving focus is what im looking for.
Ive tried chemical things like Modafinil, physical things like exercise and yoga, but what are the expert hacks to create world class, fundamentally distraction free, laser like focus from the mind of someone that cant help but get caught up by puppies on the interwebs, the tap dripping in the bathroom or the latest episode of Billions. Matt.
I think my truth deloading is don’t think that I have to think in something. I think the truth deloading is stay in contact of the nature and far way from the hipper conected planet. Is just sit down and watch a sunset, is just get out your shoes and feel the grass, is just take a bath in the rain or just talk with a real people on the street without interest. Get our deloading time is simple.
Tim, have you read Josef Pieper’s great philosophical piece “Leisure, the Basis of Culture”? It speaks to all you’re saying in this post. Maria Popova turned me on to it.
Hey Tim, thank you for sharing your experiences in general. I never thought about making deloading this planned, but I will give it a try. Usually I schedule a deloading phase for the next day. For ex: “After having tea tomorrow morning, I will practice spanish for half an hour and improvise with random songs wearing only pants!!” or “I will not leave the house at all tomorrow and don’t use any screens”.
I try to do at least one fun/creative/relaxing thing before I go through my “to do” list in general. AT first I realized, that when I deload, I tend do act like an hyperactive squirrel with a short attention span! Trying to do everything I would like to do at the same time. Then I decided it would be a good idea to categorize them, so I can pick an choose from the categories😀.
Tim, as usual, you have chipped away the extraneous, and thereby found the kernel. I have spent a lifetime living reactively, and despite cognitively understanding the importance of thinking creatively, have not truly understood just how important it is to have and defend what my friend and mentor Keith Cunningham calls “thinking time” until very recently. This posting is particularly poignant for me. Thanks
I love this post, because in its poetry, we experience the magic of deloading: the muse did visit, the music was made.
This is fantastic, Tim – useful for all knowledge workers to revisit.
Been working full-time and just committed to cutting back to 4 days.. So now that 5th day belongs to no one except me, and I look forward to seeing how it works as a “force multiplier”. Thanks Tim.
Thank you for sharing this. You do not fear sharing some very personal insights, which is probably why your audience (including me) connects with you.
Your blog and podcast inspired me to start journaling and pay more attention to routines (especially in the morning). Since then, I have been feeling much better at and outside of work.
Once again, thank you for what you bring to your audience: applicable life-changing inputs without bullshit.
I think this would make a great inbetweenisode podcast. It’s short, but perhaps you could add some other relevant anecdotes off the top of your head after reading it.
On another note, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen/heard you speak on tidiness/cleanliness around your home and workspace. Where do you fit these tasks in and how much value/effort do you put into maintaining a tidy environment?
no one has commented on the doubling income part of this? seems any other information or details about that part was left out of the above write-up
I like the concept of batching from 4HWW, so batching de-load time sounds like a good idea. Even though I’ve accomplished the 4HWW goal, I’ve still been stressed lately with personal life challenges and working on getting my business to the next level. A de-load week could be nice.
Hi Tim, Many thanks for the interview, just wanted to say someone hacked the MMA video site of Josh W. Please secure it because people from the Netherlands are taking advantage of those technics. Anyway, hope you can reach out and minimize the damage. Another thing I have being noticing you are travelling for a reason. It’s difficult solving the situation but running away is only a short term solution. Hope it will not come back after you stronger. Good luck keep up the good work.
Great stuff Tim. I was ruminating on something similar, but called it “the in-between.” Here’s something I wrote in the middle of structured in-between/deloading time in Greece:
“These moments are the in-between — the dead and dull but endlessly valuable airspace between the things we feel must do and the things we want to do. These times are never given to us. They may be offered and presented to us, but never, ever given. So we must take them.”
Thank you for writing this Tim. It’s been great to see you pull back on work this year. Everyone needs this kind of break where work isn’t the focus nor adherence to tight timeframes. This is right in line with your philosophy on valuing something other than pure money or just taking one week off of work only to not be any different when you return to work. I appreciate you bringing this up.
Love it! I definitely need to deload more during the day. Nothing harder than working from 8 – 8 then coming home head as anything.
So true. A slightly different viewpoint of the idea is that we all have the potential to be much more creative and productive than we are. But by pushing and working constantly we sabotage that. A part of ourself that wants to play and be creative literally digs in its heels and sabotages if it doesn’t get the time that it wants to relax and play. I’m still working on this, but I find it so important to give myself the time to do whatever the fuck I want, including binge watching tv shows if that’s what I want to do, and to give myself this time without reprimand or judgement.
Creative work can be really sedentary. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been around cartoonists this year but they pretty much describe it as an all you need is a pencil, a piece of paper and a cup of coffee type of job, which applies to many arts. Sparky would play hockey and read his newspaper before heading to work on his Peanuts strip (The Schultz Museum in Santa Rosa, have you checked it?). On my deloading time, I’d personally get some action by either riding my mtb, playing tennis, stretching, yoga; or walking, running, jogging intermittently. Time with family and friends is always a must, as well as time for new experiences(art galleries, museums, new restaurants/places, concerts, that type of things). I found out the more I engage with the world around me the better of my time when sitting with a pencil or in front of my computer.
Also, is Perú in your list??? 😍
Excellent idea and post. I’ve always been a big fan of the deload in the gym, but I’ve never used the term for work.
Nonetheless, I can’t tell you how often work overwhelms and stresses me, as I’m sure it does to many others.
The way I’ve been combatting this is by scheduling “no work days” in my planner. I try to get a couple of these in a week, and I also like to take mini-breaks in between completing my hour-long tasks.
I find it helps a lot. Keep up the great ideas, Tim.
Thank you for all your work. I’m glad to have stumbled across your work when I did. This is brilliant and I can so identify with the thought process. With all the noise there is little room for intuition. Not only that, but I’m so much more likely to do better work more diligently when I am rested. My tendency, like so many, is to work around the clock and try to find my sense of security in the amount of hours I put in compared to the results. It’s horseshit and I know it, which is helpful. I was considering something comparable to your post here in relation to the pomodoro method of working to a 25 minute timer proceeded by a five minute break. I pondered if the principle inherent there was scalable. It reminded me of many things I’ve learned from your writing in the past. Anyway, I’m being long-winded. Thank you for your insight. They are invaluable to me and I cherish every bit of it.
That’s a great plan! I’m in between career opportunities now and have ample time during the day to schedule activities, but sometimes feel trapped in focusing on one item for an overextended amount of time, and then feel really drained at end, which also leaves me little time to do other tasks I wanted to take care of. I noticed you penned in “Peru” in your journal. Dude, I don’t know if that is a place you have already traveled to, but in case you haven’t, by all means go! I went there years ago and was floored with all the country has to offer – from Lima to Cuzco. Machu Picchu feels almost other worldly; you’ll sense what I mean once you get there. The Peruvian people are very nice and welcoming, as well. If you like lager drinks, I recommend the “Cusquena” beer.
Thanks for creating great content, Tim. I enjoy your podcasts and blog posts.
I have been scheduling deload weeks in my weight training for over a year now and have found it helps not only with muscle growth/recovery but has allowed me to keep training hard in my mid -forties as I did in my 20s and 30s.
I have recently scheduled a deload week in my life where I scale back and allow myself more time for reflection, self assessment and relaxation.
Works a treat I can assure you.
Thanks for posting…enjoyed.