The Art of Doing Nothing

imgres“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

~ Winnie the Pooh

I have two speeds: 150 MPH and Zero.  It is a daily challenge for me to find middle ground.

This is not necessarily a post about how to lay around and waste time. But so many of us think we are too busy to stop doing stuff at all, and when we do it, our minds are racing. We need to learn to stop, relax, and enjoy doing nothing.

I have written about how taking small breaks can actually improve your productivity.  Here’s how to start to enjoy doing nothing, get rid of stress and make yourself more productive when you actually do work.

Take tiny breaks
If you have rarely tried to do nothing, it can be overwhelming and (at times) not fun. Try taking 5-10 minutes at a time, and start your practice sessions at home, not at work. Maybe you want to try this outside, or simply in your bedroom or living room. Find a time and place where there are not many distractions, not much noise, and not a lot of people to bother you.

You absolutely must shut off all technology; TV, cell phone, land line…everything.

Try closing your eyes and quietly sit there.  Let the thoughts flow…it’s going to happen (pretty viciously at first), but keep a notepad next to you for after your session; you can get all your thoughts out on paper then.

After 5-10 minutes of doing nothing, get up and go about your day. Do this every day, 5-10 minutes a day, for one week and see what a difference it makes!

The best thing to focus on while doing nothing is your breathing.  At this point, you may think I am telling you to meditate, but I’m not.  Remember..I’m a trombone player!

Start by simply breathing in and out, then start by counting your breath…in for 4 out for 4, then in for 8 out for 8.  Feel where all the air goes in your body; as you gently expand and contract. Concentrate on making every breath feel amazing.  Don’t let there be a “hitch” where you hold your breath at any point.

Do this for 5-10 minutes.  When a thought creeps into your mind, get back to thinking about breathing.  This works!

Breathing helps with this, too.  Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down where every inch of your body feels relaxed.  This could take a bit of time…

If you are not napping at this point (!), try a little self massage.   Start with your shoulders and neck, then work your way up to your head and  your face (don’t forget the ears!). Then do your back, legs and arms.

If you aren’t sure if the muscle is relaxed, tense each muscle in your body, one body part at a time, and then let the tensed muscle relax. You will notice the difference!


Okay, so you may be thinking “eating is doing something”, and it is. But good tea, coffee, wine, hot cocoa, and other delicious beverages go very well with doing nothing. Savor every bit of each sip.  It is meditative in and of itself.

Foods like berries, bread with amazing olive oil, soup or whatever it is that you love work too. Be sure you eat it slowly, savoring every bite.

This is a beginner’s guide to doing nothing.  You can go way beyond this, of course, and there are several books and blogs that can help you with it.  Hopefully you will try these few tips once a day for a bit and see where it goes.  If you can start this art, you will find that in the middle of a stressful day at work or with the kids you will allow yourself to focus more fully on the task at hand. You will be relaxed and ready to concentrate; you will be able to bring yourself into a state of ease and relaxation.

Finally, since this started as a personal finance blog, remember that doing nothing can be a lot cheaper than retail therapy, going out to eat, and shopping online!

The Art of Doing Nothing takes time to master. Start with 5-10 minutes; you will be amazed at the results!

Related Posts:

The Art of Doing Nothing on Amazon

The Art of Doing Nothing Italian Style

A Procrastinator’s Manifesto at Advanced Riskology





You may know by now that this blog has been nominated for one of the Top Personal Finance Blogs of 2012, sponsored by One Smart Dollar and Ready for Zero.  I would be honored if you took 10 seconds to click here and vote for me!  Thanks as always for reading!

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