Busy doing nothing
If you see me play scrabble with my wife and kids, you’ll see I play to win. I love the challenge of getting the Z’s, Q and X’s.
I always play to win, but don’t mind losing. I always tried to honour the ‘humble in victory, magnanimous in defeat’ saying.
One area of competitiveness I find odd though, is the way some people seem to compete on their level of busyness.
A bit like the conversations you have with your spouse when the kids are little.
‘I only had five hours sleep last night!’ — ‘Well, I only had four!’.
Over the last few years during domestic, social and work chats, people seem to be in hurry to tell how busy they are.
‘I have so much to do’. ‘I worked 12 hours today and then have loads to do at home’.
Declaring you are not very busy seems like an admission of failure. If we find ourselves with little or nothing to do, we may feel inadequate. Feel like we are not successful.
Acting like you are busy at work when you are not has led to new phrases such as presenteeism ( the practice of being present at one’s place of work for more hours than is required) and keyboard surfer.
For many years the world of work operated in a clock in, clock out way. Most worked a regular 8 hour day. Now, most are expected to work ‘the hours the job may take’. Employees sit at their desks beyond 5 PM fearing the fallout if they are the first to leave the office.
They check their emails through the evening and weekend to be seen to be doing ‘the right thing’.
We have glorified busy. We see busy as an achievement. As a status symbol.
Success does often come through hard work, but it also comes through persistence. WD40 took 40 goes to get right after all! Edison took longer.
Doing nothing is often seen as failing or weakness.
I believe it is not. Doing nothing is good for us. Stopping for a while gives us time to think. In this space comes thought, and from this thought creativity can flow.
Necessity may be the mother of invention, but boredom is its father. I have seen it with my kids. I remember it from my childhood. Left alone kids will play. They will create, they will draw, they will invent.
Stopping gives us time to look up from our desks and work stations. When we stop we often relax. Let our bodies fall into their normal relaxed state. It’s good to let our minds wander, to dream.
We must rest. We must stop. We must live a balanced life.
I believe the answer to everything is in the silence, in the stillness of nature.
By all means be busy as work and home require it, but take time to stop and do…nothing.