By Gladys Edmunds

Recently while talking with a group of friends who are business owners, one asked me how much sleep my busy schedule allowed. The entire group was shocked when I told them I get seven to eight hours of sleep a night – and I have quiet time in which I do absolutely nothing for 30 minutes twice a day.

Each took turns saying that there weren’t enough hours in the day to get all of their work done and that wasting three or four hours sleeping and having quiet time was too far-reaching to even consider. One woman said that she cuts her sleep by getting up an hour earlier than usual just to get her e-mails read and answered and her blog postings done before her business day properly begins.

My friends swore to me that they were speaking for a vast majority of entrepreneurs who trade rest, sleep and non-activity for work.

I was disappointed to hear that many entrepreneurs don’t value rest as much as they do activity. And my disappointment deepened when I learned that they believed that resting and getting the proper sleep was a waste of time.

Non-activity is as important to success as activity. It may well be one of the most important pieces, not only for health and well-being, but also for running a successful business.

I immediately thought of the words of Thomas Merton describing the importance, and yet the difficulty, of resting. He said, “For a man who has let himself be drawn completely out of himself by his activity, nothing is more difficult than to sit still and rest, doing nothing at all. The very act of resting is the hardest and most courageous act he can perform.”

We need non-activity – that is, rest — in order to examine where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. We need the benefit of having a quiet place to retreat to within ourselves as well as an escape from our environment.

First let’s start with sleep. I remember as a child being excited to have a new baby brother to play with. The trouble was that he slept all the time. When I quizzed my mother about his constant sleeping, she said that he needed to sleep a lot in the beginning in order for his little body to grow and become strong. The truth is, that hasn’t changed much. We need sleep for the benefit of the body to rest and heal and restore itself. And we need to allow the rest and relaxation of the mind so that we too might become stronger

As for the quiet, non-active time, we need this time to unclutter the mind of our day-to-day activities so that we can become more creative in our work. During our waking hours we are bombarded with things that need our attention, along with places we have to be and people we need to meet with. It’s all of these things that can slow down or even block our creative juices from flowing. Giving a little time to non-activity can limit this.

I have found solutions to some of my biggest hurdles shortly after waking up or leaving one of my quite periods.

Life works much better when it is balanced between activity and non-activity.

Perhaps you can’t start off immediately getting enough sleep or taking out an hour a day for quiet time. But, you can get started in small increments. Maybe you can start with getting an extra 30 minutes of sleep and set aside 10 minutes twice a day for non-activity.

However you decide to approach this important part of life, you will soon find that life looks a lot better and is far more productive when you can give both your body and mind a little more rest and relaxation.

At age 15 Gladys Edmunds developed a travel service that would prosper for more than 30 years. She is a national award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, author and columnist.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.  Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank.