Why Doing Nothing Translates To Productivity In The End

by Breeana Ashkar

There is a sort of anxiety associated with not filling your few free moments in the day with doing something “productive,” such as catching up on work, answering emails or last-minute studying.

The feeling of not utilizing every last bit of energy in a day scares a lot of people into thinking they’re becoming lazy. That’s why we often see people trying to work on their commute to work.

By not recognizing down time as time to ease the constant tension that is bound to come with a tedious workday, you’ll practically have gray hair by your mid-20s.

It’s an understandable habit. Maintaining your job is an accomplishment in itself and it reinforces the hard worker you were meant to be.

However, there comes a point when you’ll have to look up from your paperwork and realize that you’ve put your job first for months, maybe even years.

You haven’t had a sliver of time to enjoy yourself. Suddenly, you’ll wonder how the hell you came to be who you are now — a person who's constantly worried, stressed out and exhausted.

Some people are so absorbed in their work and studies that they haven’t even had the chance to engage in something enjoyable for months.

When you spend days working yourself to sleep, days turn into weeks and weeks into months. Suddenly, you’re almost done your 20s, sitting at an office desk, wishing you had filled your days with a little more enjoyment.

When I talk to people about this sort of subject, I get the usual answer of “that’s life” — a justification as to why it’s necessary to work your way to unhappiness. I’m daring enough to disagree with that statement because that’s not life.

You are not your job. I’m crazy enough to say, you are so much more than your job. Putting yourself before your work should never be considered selfish.

It’s a balance. If we all quit our jobs and spent our days relaxing, nothing would progress. In order to survive in this world, a job is vital, so this is not a plea to scream at your boss or to walk out of the office without looking back (unless you can afford to do that, which would be awesome).

Work is necessary, but instead of dragging it out and making your days miserable, it is important to step away and take a break every so often.

If you’re perfectly content with back-to-back work, go for it. This is meant for the people who feel like they’re drowning in work and trying to come up for air.

The steps toward a solution are to first diminish the myth that in order to have a purpose, you have to be constantly doing something. We’ve created this stigma that people who take time off or take a break are considered lazy or purposeless.

Realize that those gaps between your days are not meant to be constantly filled with more mind-numbing activities. They’re meant to give your mind a rest and let your thoughts wander to whatever you want.

It’s so simple; it’s heartbreaking that people don’t indulge in the wonderful activity. The act of doing nothing and just breathing releases the pent-up tension that builds up from everyday anxieties.

Although, oftentimes, what happens when you sit down and let your mind wander is that you find yourself unable to avoid thinking about leftover paperwork, unpaid bills and personal tasks.

It ends up becoming more of a headache just to sit down because your brain won’t shut up. Instead of literally doing nothing, occupy yourself with something relaxing: reading, napping, coffee breaks, walking, running, listening to music, yoga, writing — any of these things can completely transform your days.

Europeans do it all of the time. Hell, they have giant breaks in the middle of days. Italians have the saying “bel far niente,” which means "the beauty of doing nothing." Their lifestyle revolves around pleasure and beauty.

If they feel overworked, they stop working, stand up and walk to the nearest café for a coffee and pastry and enjoy the nice weather because they believe that they deserve it — and they do.

This feeling of not deserving time for ourselves has plagued our generation. Take that break and enjoy that latte because taking 30 minutes for yourself is not a crime.

Photo Courtesy: Fanpop