The Anti-Anxiety Benefits of “Unloading” Periods

unloading_deloading_@timferriss_tim_ferrissMany people find journaling – basically writing down your contemplations – helpful. Tim Ferriss likens reflecting with pen-and-paper to a photography darkroom for the contents of his mind. The most fruitful journaling emerges during what Tim calls “unloading” periods.

Unloading is a term often used in athletic strength and conditioning, but it’s a concept that can be applied to many other areas of life. In athletics, unloading is a back-off week; a planned reduction in exercise volume or intensity. The purpose is to prepare the body for the increased future demands and to reduce the risk of overtraining.

Tim says he has used unloading outside of sports to decrease anxiety at least 50% while simultaneously doubling his income.

He alternates intense periods of batching similar tasks with extended periods of unplugging and messing around. Tim finds both the batch processing and unplugging to free up mental bandwidth and be restorative. The unplug phase can still be intense but you shouldn’t be working on formal, business-as-usual work.

Unloading can make a normally hectic Tuesday feel like a lazy Sunday morning. This is when the muse is most likely to visit; when big ideas can appear. 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 “Damn – I forgot to… Please remind me to… Shouldn’t I?…I must remember to…”

The priority is to create large, uninterrupted blocks of time in which your mind can wander, ponder, and find the signal amidst the noise. If you’re lucky, it might even create a new signal, or connect two signals (core ideas) that have never been put together before.

Most importantly: Unloading blocks must be scheduled and defended even more vehemently than your business commitments.

Topics: E-mail Detox, Low-Information Diet, Mental Performance, Practical Philosophy