For most of us, the lives we currently lead are frantic and busy. We are faced with activity and information overload almost ALL the time.
Gone are the days where you would sit in a doctor’s waiting room and stare out the window. We are now on our smartphones, scrolling through email, social media, the news, etc. Think about the last time you sat in an airport, today 90% of passengers are glued to their electronic devices.
Time of just doing nothing is being squeezed out of our lives. And I believe it’s a real crisis for individuals, organisations and humanity as a whole.
It seems that we are too busy to become less busy. This is sad and ironic, but true. We don’t examine the costs associated with worshipping the false god of busyness.
There is a terrible cost to sanity and work/life balance because people are operating in crazy ways. When talented people are stressed and don’t have time to think, business suffers.
Can you imagine if we paused during our hectic schedules and allowed ourselves to do nothing? To have what I call “Thula Time”. In Zulu, the word ‘thula’ means quiet.
“Thula Time” is a pause during your day to do nothing. It’s not reading, meditating or mindfulness. I set the timer on my phone for 20 minutes and literally, in silence and solitude, do nothing.
Well, it may seem like nothing but in fact it’s during these quiet times that so much important “stuff” happens. If you took a brain scan during this pause, you would see lots of brain activity. It’s time to connect with that small still voice within, time to allow your creative juices to flow, time to bring to light fresh perspective on different situations.
Great leaders naturally use the Thula Time concept. When Bill Gates was at Microsoft, he took two ‘think weeks’ a year in a secluded cottage. Gary Haugen, CEO of International Justice Mission, enforces a half hour ‘stillness practice’ at 8:30 am each day in their office. Jack Welch, who led GE, spent an hour a day in what he called ‘looking out the window time’.
For Thula Time to be effective, you don’t need big stretches of time. Whether its three minutes or thirty minutes, these thoughtful pauses dotted through the busyness of our days are the oxygen that allows everything else to catch fire.
Give it a go. You will be pleasantly surprised.
Disclaimer: Inspired by Juliet Funt’s talk at the 2017 Global Leadership Summit. I have become passionate about this idea of Thula Time. Anyone who knows me will know that I didn’t choose this focus for my life because it comes naturally – it’s quite the opposite! I have lived life racing from one thing to the next. If Thula Time can help me, then it can help anyone!
Written by Deb Mun-Gavin