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You want to be more productive? Try doing nothing.

The Japanese call it Boketto or 'gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking about anything specific'. The Italians call it Dolce Far Niente or 'the sweetness of doing nothing'. The Dutch call it Niksen or 'doing nothing'.

We honor busyness in our society, so we think we need to always be 'doing', but without taking time to pause, think, and do nothing, we lose focus and purpose in our action.

Why do I need it?

Our bodies and minds need rest to work optimally. By taking breaks to do nothing, you will lower your stress and think more clearly. Your mind gets a chance to rest so it can work better.

Why do leaders need it?

By taking regular 'nothing time', leaders will be able to think more clearly and creatively. Perhaps you have an issue at work that you can't find a solution to? Or maybe there is a person that really pushes your buttons? By taking some nothing time, you will be able to think more clearly in coming up with solutions and will be able to face difficult situations more calmly.

How can I do it?

First, plan your time.

  • Set a time to sit and be still. It doesn't matter how long, but set the time apart. You could even use a pomodoro timer to take 5 minutes after every 25 minutes of focused work.

  • Eliminate all distractions - notifications or people who may interrupt you.

  • Find a place that is comfortable where you won't be bothered. It could be an armchair or a nice office chair, a café, a park or a museum or even a bath, but find a place where you are comfortable and won't be disturbed and can switch off your thinking.

Next chose what you will do for this time.

  • Try breathing exercises.

  • Noting exercises - what do you see, hear, feel, smell, taste, etc.?

  • Savor your coffee or tea.

  • Look out the window and stare at the clouds.

  • Listen to music.

Action Steps

Start by scheduling 5 minutes you will take to do nothing each day for the next week. For the most benefit, take the time in the middle of your work day. Then savor the feeling of rest so you will be energized to face your next big task.

  1. YuLife. “The Art of Doing Nothing | YuLife.”, 2016, Accessed 8 Sept. 2022.

  2. INSEAD Knowledge. “The Importance of Doing Nothing.” Forbes, 1 July 2014, Accessed 8 Sept. 2022.

  3. Business Insider Deutschland. ““Niksen” Is Replacing “Hygge” as the Best Method De-Stressing Method.” Insider, Insider, 2020, Accessed 8 Sept. 2022.

  4. tatiana. “The Art of Doing Nothing - Womentorship - Medium.” Medium, Womentorship, Aug. 2019, Accessed 8 Sept. 2022.


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