Skip to Content

The Value of Doing Nothing

This weekend I learned a valuable lesson in the value of doing nothing.  A fellow blogger recently dropped this nugget of wisdom into my life:

If you are not taking time to rest regularly you are cheating yourself.   Start planning time each day or week to do something relaxing and watch how much more productive you become. ~ A Proverbs Wife

The Value of Doing Nothing SolitudeWhen was the last time you sat and did nothing? How long did it last? No, we’re not talking about sitting in front of the TV folding socks and t-shirts. We’re not talking about chatting on the phone with your mom. Or the day you sat down to work and ended up reading Yahoo articles and Pinterest recipes for twenty minutes. We’re talking nothing. Doing nothing at all: simply sitting still and doing nothing. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Doing nothing has its value.

Winnie the Pooh author AA Milne said, “Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” Many people will argue that we don’t do that enough. Stopping to listen has its benefits.

The Value of Doing Nothing
People often get their best ideas while doing nothing. Walt Disney spent countless Saturdays in Griffith Park watching his daughters play on the carousel, waiting for hours until they were ready to go. It made him wish there was a park where kids and parents could enjoy things together. Was Mr. Disney doing nothing? Um, only coming up with the idea for the greatest theme park in the world…

Writers, songwriters, actors, inventors and philosophers have all been known to get their best ideas while doing nothing. Whether it’s a nap, a shower, driving, yard work, or cleaning, creativity is often at its peak when we allow our minds to not focus on the problem we’re trying to solve, but instead let it rest. Problems get solved, final acts get written and songs get composed.

Stephanie Meyer says the concept for her Twilight series came to her in a dream. J.K. Rowling says the world of Harry Potter came to her fully formed while she was riding a train. The song “Pretty Woman” was written when Roy Orbison was just playing anything that came to mind. His wife said she was going to go to the store, his partner, Bill Dees, made a comment and Orbison sang “Pretty woman… walking down the street.” The song was finished that day, recorded a week later and a week after that the song was out.

Monks spend hours sitting in meditation. Are they doing nothing? They’re lowering their blood pressure, clearing their minds, improving their circulation and perhaps learning something about themselves. There’s an old Zen saying recommending meditation for 20 minutes every day unless you’re too busy – then you should meditate an hour.

The Value of Doing Nothing
Consider Baloo’s advice from the cartoon Jungle Book: “If you act like that bee acts…. Uh-uh… you’re working too hard….I’ll tell you something true… the bare necessities of life will come to you.”

Back in the day, people would sit on their front porch. They’d basically sit and do nothing. Watch a butterfly or birds in the yard, sip lemonade, or swing on the porch swing. The lazy summer days are nearly gone now – today’s porch sitter would be texting, reading Twitter updates or news headlines. There’s no time for sitting. Maybe there should be.

Next time you’re headed out on a neighborhood powerwalk or heading out to sit on the deck, consider leaving your phone and tablet behind. Just sit there, sip your coffee and look around. Sometimes a little rest, a little daydreaming, a little cloud watching or stargazing is good for the soul. In the words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.”

Newsletter Banner

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Kalley C

Tuesday 25th of March 2014

I agree with you on this 100%! Most of my best ideas comes from removing myself and just being alone, in a quiet area not doing anything but thinking. I love to mediate and see where my mind takes me. I believe that stopping and listening has huge benefits, and it allows us to be more mindful and present throughout our day!

Kenya G. Johnson

Tuesday 25th of March 2014

Wow. I sure needed this today. But I tell you the only reason I won't go back to bed right now is because my husband is there. LOL. It's been a long a while since I did nothing and I can actually remember that my doing nothing was laying on the sofa watching the last two episodes that I had recorded of Downton Abbey. I didn't feel good but really I was just drained. When I got up from laying there though I was feeling completely lazy, I felt much better. I don't watch tv often and I'm usually multi-tasking when I do. I don't know if I could sit still to meditate though. Love the quotes in this post.


Tuesday 25th of March 2014

I'm glad it was a well-timed article and good for you for taking some "lazy Kenya" time! Meditation - believe it or not - takes practice and patience (sounds like an oxymoron...LOL) but we are so programmed to constantly be on the go and doing something we have to teach our bodies and minds to turn off and just be.


Friday 21st of March 2014

Totally agree with you. Those moments of solitude with nothing to do is where I get myself thinking. I love it..:)


Quarter Life Cents

Thursday 20th of March 2014

I have a full week off next week and I can't wait to do nothing. You are so right, creativity is spawned from an unfocused (or more focused? Depends how you look at it!) mind sometimes :) Also, I love the idea of leaving your phone behind. I keep wanting to detach myself from that thing but haven't been successful yet.


Tuesday 25th of March 2014

Becoming detached from my phone has become one of the most freeing feelings of late - now to do the same for social media...LOL

Jordyn @ Almost Supermom

Tuesday 18th of March 2014

Agreed!!! It's so hard to do sometimes, but we need to do it :)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.