How to Be Productive While Doing Nothing

How to Be Productive While Doing Nothing

How to Be Productive While Doing Nothing 1920 1080 The Conscious Professional

“The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favour of holding meetings.” – Thomas Sowell

Doing nothing. Or rather, doing things that are ‘not work’ often feels like an indulgence to me. I believe we live in a world that is all about constant grind all the time. I’m not sure that is good for us.

But I’m here to explore the idea that ‘doing nothing’ (slash ‘doing something for your own pleasure’) is actually a highly productive, necessary and positive thing to do. Enjoying the spoils of life not only helps you in other areas of your life, but it’s also, is it not, what life is actually about.

So, here are a few things you might wish to do, that might feel frivolous or ‘time-wastey’, that are actually very nourishing and helpful indeed.

1. Gaming

I was pretty anti-gaming for a long time. I was always led to believe, in my youth, that games were mind-rotting things. Then, a few years ago, I became briefly bedridden after some surgery. I bought a console so that I had something fun to do, and I’ve never looked back.

Gaming allows you to interact with new worlds and ideas. It allows you to create. It allows you to connect with others. It also helps to exercise the parts of our brains used for play. A part that adults tend to use less. Add to that the problem-solving and hand-eye coordination practice it gives you, and you have a hobby that is very productive indeed.

2. Cooking

I’m never happier than when cooking. What might seem like a dull necessity is actually more productive (beyond feeding yourself) than you might think. Cooking requires timing, patience, fine motor skills, creativity and problem-solving. Sure, it’s good not to cook once in a while, but cooking from scratch is not just a badge of honour… it’s a way of exercising a multitude of skills and brain functions.

3. Exercise

We know exercise is good for us. But, if you’re anything like me, you still find yourself justifying it as if it is an extra-curricular, non-necessary activity. However, despite those voices in my head, I know my two gym sessions a week are non-negotiable. Not only does it keep my body in good working order (less easy than it was in my 20s), it is vital for my mental health. It gives me time away from my other worries, but also helps me not to blow issues that I have been spiralling about out of proportion.

4. Doodling

I have a four-year-old. And so, I doodle while he colours in mermaids, dragons and princesses quite often. Doodling is very calming. It allows your mind to wander. I also think is distracts one from the stresses and strains of adult life in a very gentle way. I’ve untangled many thoughts with very little effort while doodling.

5. Actually Doing Nothing

I haven’t been on holiday in a long time. My favourite holidays are beach holidays. Sun, sea, swimming pool, cocktails… you know the kind. But it isn’t the frozen beer glasses, local food, or sun-kissed beaches that I pine for the most when dreaming of a holiday.

I always go back to a moment from a holiday in Corfu about ten years ago. I had just arrived, and the first thing I did was lie on a Lilo and stare up at the clear blue sky. I hadn’t intended to, but I ended up staring at the sky for about three hours. As I drifted, palm trees would slip in and out of my view. Other than that, all I had was my thoughts. It felt like my brain completely reset. When I got up for dinner a few hours later, I felt more alive and refreshed than I had done in years. It was, perhaps, the most productive idleness I had ever experienced.

Doing nothing is great. We should do it more. How often do we really let our minds wander these days?

By Chris Thomson


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