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The Free-Time Formula by Jeff Sanders

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6Mental Bicep Curls: Pausing Is Productive

If there is any physical activity I enjoy more than running, it is backpacking.

A few years ago, I took a trip with my father and brother to Yellowstone National Park with the intention of doing a few touristy activities, and then spending the bulk of our time hiking, camping, and climbing mountains.

This trip came at an ideal time for me. I had been incredibly busy at work and had given myself very little time for decompressing.

A big part of me was thrilled to be detaching from the hustle and bustle of daily life to find a new rhythm, if only for a few days. A smaller part of me was concerned this excursion would serve as nothing more than a delay in productivity, a ten‐day obstacle between me and my goals.

What I missed then, and what is utterly apparent today, was that this trip was the goal.

This adventure into the wilderness was life at its best—not a distraction from checking more boxes on yet another list.

As the backpacking began, what surprised me most was my initial inability to soak up the beauty all around me. Sure, I was taking lots of pictures, but I was in no way present.

I was still mentally and digitally connected to my life back at home, checking email, social media, and website stats (which I still check way too often today).

As the trip continued to unfold, I slowly began to find myself thinking more about blisters and potential bear attacks than missed email or opportunities to do more work at the office.

I was unwinding, ...

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