On Doing Nothing.

I felt a little guilty the other day when I started watching a movie at home at around 4 pm.

After all, I could do better things with my time, such as reading philosophy, exercising, learning new skills, etc.

Indeed, could I spend this time improving my life?

Then I realized that I was already improving, even doing nothing in particular and just watching a movie. Having decided to give up both coffee and alcohol simultaneously (so no more Espresso Martinis!), I realized that every hour that passes, I am getting closer to my goal of completely giving both of these things up for one hundred days.

The mere act of not doing anything is helping me to do something.

I felt like it could be a compelling principle for transformation in life. After all, it is easier not to do something than to do it. I started to wonder if this principle would make changing habits so much easier. I'm not the first person in history to think along these lines, and you could argue that the ancient Chinese essentially built a philosophy around this.

However, this doesn't stop it being fascinating, the fact that we can create change without actually doing anything. You can make far more progress in your life by stopping your negative habits than trying to start positive ones, and it can take far less effort.

Cutting out the daily soda is far better than just adding an apple to your daily diet.

The Art of Doing Nothing

It can be a tricky balancing act between actively scheduling in time to do nothing and just being generally a lazy individual. However, suppose we can conclude that doing nothing isn't as bad as the productivity gurus who tell us that we should track every waking minute tell us it is. In that case, an entirely new world of opportunities opens up for us.

It's then fine to make Wednesday a day of relaxation, it's OK to skip breakfast every so often, and it's OK to watch TV at 4 pm occasionally. I use this technique of doing nothing to ensure that I wake up early in the morning. I make sure that I stand up and then wait and do nothing or some light stretching. Before I know it, I am awake. I also use this principle when I want to skip breakfast. I think about how easy it is not to eat breakfast and then wait until midday.

The real way you can add value to the world, and yourself is not by a sudden “Eureka!” moment where everything suddenly clicks together, nor is it by working ourselves to the ground.

It is by consistent dedication over a long period.

“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” Biz Stone

“The most impressive people I know spent their time with their head down getting shit done for a long, long time.” Sam Altman

With that in mind, it becomes clear that actively seeking time to do nothing is a strategy to ensure that we can stay consistent when we are doing something, with the bonus that even in doing nothing, you are still adding value to yourself.