The art of doing nothing | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 23, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 23, 2020

The art of doing nothing

Last year, I went on a vacation to Bali, which is supposed to be one of the most relaxing places on Earth. I had a whole itinerary planned for the trip to make sure I was able to absorb every inch of the seemingly magical place. But, somehow I returned tired and exhausted from all the travelling. Although I did enjoy the trip, it made me wonder why I felt so emotionally and physically drained from what was supposed to be a relaxing vacation.

The answer I found later was stuck in my strict itinerary. It was organised in such a way that during the whole trip, I was always doing something. There was rarely a moment I left for myself to relax by a beach or just read a book by the moonlight. It made me wonder that although it was a vacation, why I felt so guilty to wake up late just once. What was this innate need I had to always feel like I was doing something? And, if I wasn’t, it felt like I was falling behind.

It made me think outside the realms of this vacation and about my everyday life where I try to occupy each waking moment with some work or other. I try to create elaborate to-do lists to make sure there’s not a moment I am spending idly sitting down. As I look around me, I realise it’s not just me. We all feel the need to seem busy to others. Somehow this busy-ness is correlated to importance. It has been instilled in us from a young age that sitting around doing nothing is a waste of time. It’s a crime to let time slip by like that and we need to grab each and every moment and make use of it.

However, what this thought process overlooks is the burnout of both the mind and the body that results from always keeping busy. Working at a stretch for hours on end is bound to result in stress and exhaustion. It hampers productivity as well. Anyone who is used to pulling all-nighters will tell you that you get the most work done in the first hour compared to the rest of the six hours put together.

The point of this whole rant is to understand that it’s not wrong to spend a couple of hours doing nothing. It might even be necessary for your mental well-being. So, the next time you catch yourself just staring out a window and doing nothing, cut yourself some slack and continue.


Tasnim Odrika likes pineapple on pizza and is willing to fight anyone who opposes her on this. Reach her at

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