What Happened to Downtime?

What Happened to Downtime? The Extinction of Deep Thinking & Sacred Space

5. Protect the state of no-intent.

When you’re rushing to a solution, your mind will jump to the easiest and most familiar path. But when you allow yourself to just look out the window for 10 minutes – and ponder – your brain will start working in a more creative way. It will grasp ideas from unexpected places. It’s this very sort of unconscious creativity that leads to great thinking. When you’re driving or showering, you’re letting your mind wander because you don’t have to focus on anything in particular. If you do carve out some time for unobstructed thinking, be sure to free yourself from any specific intent.

I love this article and have been really challenged by it. I've been noticing that I have just been giving myself time to think while driving lately instead of packing in all the usual podcasts and audiobooks. For me, the thinking time in the shower often helps me identify areas of worry and idols in my life. I'm praying that God will help me use that time to think about His goodness to me more.

What The Most Successful (Dutch) People Do On The Weekend

We’re on vacation for the week. While i never get through nearly the amount of reading that I hope (i’m an optimistically busy vacationer), I usually finish a few reading projects that I’ve been struggling to finish for a while.

Yesterday afternoon, however, I finished a book that has not been on my list for very long[1]: What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend by Laura Vanderkam. I’m unsure if Ms. Vanderkam is Dutch by marriage or blood, but either way, this little book is nearly perfect for those of us who get excited by the thought of the weekend and on Sunday night realize that most of it was wasted.

This book is actually a part of a mini-series of books that I believe are extracted from her book 168 Hours, which is based on making the most of your time. There is a lot of carpe diem in these books and I think sometimes we all need a little kick in the butt. The carpe diem theme has a reoccurring one in my life lately. I think the latest round of thoughts was started by talking with the elder at our church that oversees our small group. He was saying that we should come to the end of our life and feel that we have been completely poured out for the sake of the Gospel.

Anticipation and Anchor Events

One of the main points throughout the book(let) is the importance of anticipating the anchor events we have set up for the weekend. If you’re familiar with Stephen Covey’s planning methods, this is the equivalent of fitting in your big rocks. Vanderkam recommends having three to five anchor events throughout the weekend.

The thought process behind these anchor events is that if we do not make progress in life if we let our mental muscles atrophy. Think of it as mental cross-training. Binge watching isn’t a good way to spend your weekend, surfing the web, or napping the whole weekend isn’t a good use of your time and it probably stresses you out without realizing it. The book summarizes it perfectly:

Likewise, other kinds of work— be it exercise, a creative hobby, hands-on parenting, or volunteering— will do more to preserve your zest for Monday’s challenges than complete vegetation or working through the weekend. As Anatole France once wrote, ”Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another.”[2] (emphasis added)

Vanderkam also talks about the importance of anticipating events. A large part of our joy in events comes not from the event itself, but the time spent thinking ahead to how much you’ll enjoy the event. I’m very familiar with this thinking, and in part, it’s why I don’t go to concerts anymore. I finally realized that I enjoy thinking about going to see my favorite bands a lot more than I enjoy being around the other people who like those bands.

How are you spending your weekends? Are you feeling refreshed and recharged by them or a little stressed when Sunday night comes around and you look back on how you spent your time? If you’re feeling like me, go read the book. It’s $2.99 on your Kindle and it is really helpful even if you do feel great on Sunday night.


What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend: A Short Guide to Making the Most of Your Days Off

Written by: Laura Vanderkam
Published by: Portfolio
Date published: December 31, 2012
Edition: Kindle
Available in Ebook

  1. At 38 pages, it would be embarrassing if it was on my list for a long time.  ↩

  2. Vanderkam, Laura (2012–12–31). What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend: A Short Guide to Making the Most of Your Days Off (A Penguin Special from Portfolio) (Kindle Locations 141–144). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.  ↩