Why nothing is one of the most important things you can do

Downtime is not a luxury. It’s a necessity.


Does this sound familiar to you?  You wake up in the morning, shower, get dressed and, maybe, grab a bite to eat.  If you have school-age kids, you might also be helping them get ready for school. You spend time looking for misplaced homework and playing taxi (confession: that part is my life).  After that, you hit the ground running at work and for the next 8+ hours your going at it.  Afterwards, you head out the door and, over the next few hours, you try to squeeze in time for (maybe) a workout, dinner and some brief family time.  Then, it’s off to bed.  Rinse, lather and repeat until Friday night.

The sad part about this is that what I shared is not atypical.  In fact, it might be rather mild.  I didn’t bother to include those of us who have our kids in extracurricular activities or those of us who bring work home.

The point is that many of us continue to run and run to the point of near-collapse.  We use the weekends to try to “catch up” on our rest, as if that’s possible.  What we could really use is some downtime.

You do remember downtime, right?  Think back to the last time you had a relaxing vacation.  Not the one where you woke up early, did a ton of sightseeing and shopping and collapsed back at the hotel.  I’m talking about when you woke up without an alarm clock, sat on a beach and read, lounged, laughed and forgot about the “real world” for a while.

What did you envision as you read this?  Did your stress level come down just thinking about it?  What if I told you that you should try to find some space every day where you do…nothing?

Downtime is not a luxury.  It’s a necessity.  Downtime has been shown to not only recharge one’s batteries, it’s also been shown to actually have a positive impact on problem-solving by allowing the brain to passively process information it’s already accumulated.  Think about it this way, have you ever tried stuff down more food on a full stomach?  At that point, the thought of taking another bite isn’t really that appealing.  Instead, you have to wait for your body to digest what it’s already taken in.  Your brain is no different.  It gets fatigued and needs a break to actually digest the information it’s previously consumed.

Whether it’s quiet meditation, a game of solitaire, a nature walk or a brief nap, find some downtime in your day.  You might find that doing nothing is the most productive thing you’ll do all day.

Written by JP Smith

A self-proclaimed "technologist...with attitude", I'm a forty-something husband, father and IT professional/enthusiast. I believe that learning and growth are lifelong endeavors.