There’s no reason to feel guilty about doing nothing. In fact, studies show that emptying your schedule and your mind for a while actually leads to better productivity.
Here are 5 reasons why you should drop whatever you’re doing right now and just be for a bit.
1. Down time lifts your learning ability
A study conducted at the University of Birmingham proved that your brain is capable of learning even while it believes it’s at rest. Participants were given a faulty joystick, and during their “down time,” their brains were still busy making neural connections to solve the problem, which then helped them when the experiment restarted (Scientific American). They learned without realizing they were learning.
2. Being too busy is the opposite of living mindfully
When you’re constantly running from one task to the other, being present in the moment is impossible. Some psychologists have even written that excessive work is actually a way for you to avoid unpleasant emotions and thoughts (Psychology Today). It’s only when we’re “doing nothing,” that our minds confront these issues.
3. There is no such thing as “doing nothing”
In today’s world, it’s easy to feel guilty for taking a moment for yourself. When you aren’t busy, you may feel judged by the people around you for not being productive. But it’s okay not to be productive all the time! Whether you’re taking a tea break at work or want to sit a few minutes before starting dinner, you’re not “doing nothing”—you’re recharging for the future.
4. Taking a time out can spark creativity
Imagine that you’ve been struggling with a problem all morning. As hard as you focus, you can’t seem to conquer it. So you take the dog for a walk, or you make a quick trip the store. And then, while standing in line, the answer suddenly comes to you. Thinking of solutions when your brain is busy engaged in something else is known as the “eureka effect.” It’s no surprise that some of the most creative minds in the world use this technique to finish projects.
5. You gain more focus by not focusing
According to business book author Tony Schwartz, “Human beings are not machines. Rather, we're designed to move rhythmically between spending and renewing energy. By doing so, we can get more done, in less time, at a higher level of quality, in a more sustainable way” (The Energy Project). He suggests that for every 90 minutes of focused work, you should take a 15 minute break. If you do that, the next 90 minutes will be even more productive.
What’s the lesson to be learned here? Doing nothing is actually good for you and good for your work output. In fact, it may even lead to enlightenment. So schedule a bit of down time in your calendar, sit back and relax.