Fight the inner voice that tells you to be productive, to check email, scroll IG, re-watch GOT, work on your essay, call a friend, or something, and do nothing instead, at least sometimes.
Today is supposed to be the easiest time to be alive. The quarantine life, due to the Covid-19, confirmed that. We can live our full lives in one room - sleep, work, exercise, hang out with friends, or even go to parties, start a business, cook, watch movies, do some shopping - you name it! However, have our lives become less busy than our ancestors’? No. In reality, we spend more time preoccupied. We go from one task to another, usually dealing with several at once, and when we finally get some room to breathe, we have social media to keep us entertained.
Nothingdoingness is lumped together with boredom and unproductiveness, which are associated with negative emotions, and sometimes even loneliness and sadness. The reason is that when we are bored or not preoccupied, we are left or even stuck with our thoughts. We have to deal with what’s going on in our minds. It might be a repressed memory, a sad sense of disconnectedness because you can’t leave your room, or even a positive feeling. It’s easy to escape your thoughts - all you have to do is do something. Nevertheless, running away won’t do anyone any good, so sometimes we should try doing nothing instead.
When we do nothing, our brain wanders around and lets us learn about ourselves better. It shows us our thought patterns - how we go from one thought to another and end up thinking about a completely different thing in a matter of seconds. Our thoughts we are normally running away from (which we talked about earlier) don’t seem that scary anymore. There’s more to it. Have you ever gone to bed very tired, ready to fall asleep immediately, but you couldn’t because you started thinking about that day in middle school when you embarrassed yourself? It happens when we spend the entire day preoccupied, and at the end of the day, our minds want to get some attention. Such a thing might not have happened if we gave it some attention during the day.
By just living, we consume an abundance of information every single day: through human interactions, observations, social media, books, videos, podcasts, lessons, research, work, and so on, which is an invaluable first step to finding inspiration and getting creative. However, we can’t be creating while consuming, can we? According to Sandi Mann, a senior psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, boredom is an essential part of the creative process and should be applied to our day-to-day lives. Here’s how it works. We established that we acquire a lot of information during the day, even when we don’t want to. What happens when we do nothing and are a bit bored is that valuable pieces of information float up in our minds. We mix and match different ideas and come up with new ones. Art/Writer’s block happens to us when we are rapidly seeking ideas. Sometimes, the best solution is to relax and let the ideas come to you.
Being busy and wanting to be entertained can be addictive. The less time we spend being bored, the less we want to be bored. If listening to a podcast kept you occupied and happy, eventually, you will be listening to podcasts while drawing, texting, snacking, and whatever else you can squeeze in. Moreover, the multitasking aspect of it will give you an illusion that you are being productive. However, in reality, your attention will get divided among more and more tasks, and in the end, you won’t REALLY be doing anything - just wasting your time.
When you do spend some time doing nothing, even the tiniest activities bring you joy. Trust me. Just try it. Let’s do nothing!