Photo: Christopher Ebarb
My husband told me I should sit and do nothing. In today’s fast-paced society, doing nothing takes effort, especially for someone like me who enjoys being busy. “I’ll fall asleep,” I told him.
And yet, a Business Insider article reveals idle time actually leads to better productivity. I have to admit inspiration tends to strike when I’m working in the yard or taking a shower, a deviation from my normal state of busyness. But I’m still “doing” in those instances.
What would happen if I did nothing? Would I truly fall asleep?
Men may find it easier to be idle as they, unlike women, actually have a “nothing box,” according to Mark Gungor, chief executive officer of Laugh Your Way America. Men’s brains are like waffles, after all, with compartmentalized subjects.
Women’s brains, on the other hand, tend to be more like spaghetti, wherein each subject is related to another. One thought leads to another about a linked topic and to another and so on. A nothing box? That’s a joke. Most women’s brains never stop thinking.
And therein lies the crux. The brain is complex. It needs times of rest to reboot, so to speak, similar to the way our “smart” phones require occasional restarts to improve performance.
Perhaps a man’s time spent in his nothing box inspires him. Author Sandi Mann wrote an entire book about the subject of downtime. (Maybe she was bored.) Titled “The Science of Boredom: Why Boredom Is Good,” the book reveals how boredom “can be a catalyst for humor, fun, reflection, creativity and inspiration.”
I remember times of boredom in my childhood, when technology was much less prevalent than it is today. Those times forced me to expand my thoughts. I had to come up with things to do to avoid being bored. That feeling led me to read books and increase my knowledge, play solitary games and learn to strategize, and be productive and contribute to the household chores without being asked.
Maybe boredom and inactivity really are good things, and we should facilitate them in our daily lives and encourage those around us to do likewise. I’m still experimenting with doing nothing. It definitely does not come easy for me. But thanks to this research, I’m not completely opposed to the idea. What about you? Are you willing to give it a try?
Christian, wife, mother of 5, breast cancer survivor, marathon finisher, writer and editor, author of "Help! I'm a Science Project"