Getting Busy (Doing Nothing)


Have you ever noticed how many things require your attention?

School. Family. Work. Friends. Homework. Clubs. Papers. Post-graduation. Wait, me? Oh yeah. Me. Or you. Us, really.

It’s really easy to forget to give ourselves attention when all these other things are happening around us. Think about sleep. When was the last time you cheated yourself a little sleep? Or a lot of sleep? What about meals? Ever find yourself pushing those back further and further in the day?

No one’s saying it’s easy, but it is important to be sure we take a little time to ourselves to do absolutely nothing.

Nothing.

But how do YOU do nothing?

Maybe you’re taking a break to do nothing and you start watching some Netflix. Or maybe you pick up that new book – finally. Or maybe you just take a few minutes to check your updates: Facebook. Twitter. Instagram.

But this isn’t nothing.

Photo by Jason Howie of Flickr Creative Commons
Photo by Jason Howie of Flickr Creative Commons

A great blog by Nicole Liloia explores the difference being busy doing nothing and actually, truly, really really doing nothing. Liloia talks about how we tend to feel overwhelmed by all the “something” we have to do that when we take time to do nothing, we don’t truly allow ourselves to do nothing. Sometimes, when we’re worn out and overwhelmed, binging on Netflix doesn’t seem to recharge us at all.

This is being busy doing nothing: giving into the subconscious guilt that we should always be doing something – anything.

The times at which we do nothing are essential for recharging our bodies and our minds. When we really allow ourselves to do nothing, we give ourselves time to reconnect with ourselves and to enjoy our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

By keeping ourselves busy – even if it’s only Facebook – we are distracting ourselves from ourselves. We are losing focus of the most important person in our lives: us.

So let’s give ourselves a fair chance, shall we?

In 2003 Amitay Tweeto created the quiet place project, an online site where you can “choose quiet.” It may see a bit counter-intuitive, but look at is as a first step in one of many to get yourself back to you.

The quiet place project uses several different ‘rooms’ to guide you through the process of reconnecting and doing nothing. It’s a judgment free place – a place free of social media and cell phones and advertisements. There aren’t even capital letters!

In the quiet place, you are invited to shut off all your devices and absorb yourself into a guided conversation with yourself for at least 30 seconds. Another ‘room’, the thoughts room, is a place where you can get out all of your thoughts and feelings and stress using a status bar, and watch your words burst into stars. Finally: the dawn room. The dawn room is extra special because it’s a place to go when everything seems too hard. As you navigate through this area, you are bombarded with kindness and encouragement to get you through whatever hardship your dealing with.

Though this isn’t technically doing nothing, it is a good step. The quiet place project is space where you can learn to do nothing, to connect with your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and begin to enjoy them.

“i’m gong to say goodbye soon.

and let you get back to your notifications

but before that, i just want to give you some advice

from time to time

stop everything you do

and go to your quiet place

goodbye.”

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