• Patrick McAndrew

Schedule Time For Nothing

Do you ever feel guilty for doing nothing? Sometimes I find myself in this trap. I call it a trap because doing nothing can be incredibly beneficial to us.

There are people who can sit back and relax and then there are those who feel like they always need to be active and doing something. Which camp do you fall into? I try my best to live in both worlds. Simon Gottschalk, Professor of Sociology at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, wrote an article titled, “In praise of doing nothing.” He states, “In this 24/7, ‘always on’ age, the prospect of doing nothing might sound unrealistic and unreasonable.  But it’s never been more important.” Gottschalk brings up topics to support his argument for doing nothing like “acceleration for the sake of acceleration” and “the oppression of speed.” He ends his article with a quote by Albert Camus, which I believe sums up the entire article nicely. “Idleness is fatal only to the mediocre.”

There’s the ticket, indeed! While I’m all in favor of doing nothing and taking that time to reflect, we mustn’t pitch our tents in the world of nothingness and camp out for an eternity. It’s important to take that time and use it as fuel to accomplish meaningful and worthy work.

There are many, sadly, who live in the “do nothing” camp for a little too long. They get comfortable and don’t stretch themselves mentally or physically. These people rarely accomplish anything or provide anything of value to their fellow human beings. We can help these people the best we can, but they also need to help themselves to a greater extent.

This isn’t the point of this article, however. While there are a handful of people who live in the “do nothing” space, there are many more of us who live in the opposite: the “I always need to be doing something” space.

We strive to accomplish our goals. We strive to be productive. We aim to get as much done as possible in one day or strive for some version of perfection. The problem with this is that we are being counterproductive. When we fill every, last minute of our days, we don’t leave time for rest. Most people in the United States don’t get enough sleep. We work, and work, and work, and work. We say that we are “paying our dues” in favor of a more relaxing and prosperous future down the road.

While it’s important to put in the work, it’s crucial to do so in a smart way. We don’t want to find ourselves doing work for work’s sake. We don’t want to book our days completely without leaving time for ourselves. It is up to us to structure our days strategically, leaving time to productively tackle our work and also leaving space for nothing, whether that be time for reflecting or relaxing. This period of nothing will rejuvenate us so that we can be more productive when we do sit down and work.

With technology always at our fingertips and with outside entities endlessly calling for our attention, it is more important now more than ever to schedule in time for nothing. It’s that time that is going to make the difference in the long run. We never know what ideas will come our way in those moments of reflection. And we must leave the space available to welcome those life-changing moments into our lives.

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