The Chinese philosopher Lin Yutang once said that an afternoon spent doing nothing is an afternoon well spent. When was the last time you can honestly say you did nothing the entire afternoon? Imagine a whole afternoon, five precious hours of it, spent gazing at the clouds, or lying in the grass watching toddlers stick fingers into each others' nostrils, or with a trashy book.
If your working style has a preference for high responsibility, high perseverence and sequential processing (goal-driven), you'll probably feel guilty if you're not busy. It may seem too decadent, or simply wrong, to devote precious hours of free time to… nothing.
We have lost the fine art of not doing. Our lives are full of traps to ensure we fill our time. The devil makes works for idle hands? Bah! The devil actually makes idle unimportant work for hands that are too busy to notice the difference.
Think of all the emails we feel obliged to respond to, all the newspapers we feel we should read to remain "current", all the web sites we visit out of habit. Do clothes really need to be ironed? What's wrong with eating takeaway or popcorn for dinner on a weekly basis? What's the point of applying make-up only to wipe it off again at the end of the day?
It's time to stop feeling guilty about walking out of bad movies, it's time to stop feeling guilty about giving books ten pages to grip you and putting them aside if they fail the test, and it's high time to start feeling guilty about all the time-fillers we clutch to in order to avoid doing - nothing.
Next time you're waiting at a supermarket checkout, resist the temptation to flick through all those magazines you wouldn't normally buy. When stopped at a red traffic light, be grateful for the pause. Grab every single opportunity to be out there and do nothing. Remember, it's an art. And it's far more difficult than you think.
Now for the test. Click here to do nothing for two minutes. This mini-break was brough to you by Creative Learning, because we care.