Nothing Doing

Bob Goldman on

I don't like to brag, but I am very busy. I am busy doing nothing, but it still counts. In fact, being busy doing nothing counts a lot more than being busy doing something.

If you doubt me, ask Olga Mecking.

Mecking is the author of "The Case for Doing Nothing," a recent article published in The New York Times.

The basic premise is that being busy has become a "status indicator." As in, "I'm so busy because I'm just so important."

But being busy does not make you important. It only makes you a target for "burnout, anxiety disorders and stress-related diseases."

This is not a problem in the Netherlands, in case you were wondering. In the Netherlands, being unbusy is a thing -- a thing called niksen.


In case your Dutch is a little rusty, niksen means "to take conscious, considered time and energy to do activities like gazing out a window or sitting motionless."

(If you have not progressed sufficiently in your career to have a window, walk over to the nearest manager's office and look out their window. They're so busy with their niksen, they'll never notice you.)

Alas, we live in a society where an ability to do niksen is not really appreciated. When was the last time you were dinged in your annual review for not spending enough time doing nothing?

According to psychologist Sandi Mann, niksen helps generate creativity, but there is a catch: "Total idleness is required."


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