It's surprisingly hard to "do nothing"

Summer is my favorite time of year. I’m already the type of person who plans aggressively and takes on a lot. But in the summer in New York, when it’s not raining for days on end, it basically feels like a crime to stay inside on a gloriously beautiful day.

So of course, in the month of June I filled my calendar with happy hours, rooftop parties, film screenings, a beach day trip, two work trips to DC in three weeks, and multiple visits to the Highline/Hudson Yards/Prospect Park/etc. By this weekend, I was… exhausted! I spent all of Saturday basically doing nothing because I just really needed a chill day. So I loved this piece in the New York Times this weekend encouraging people to spend some time doing nothing this summer.

Author Bonnie Tsui writes:

Fallow time is part of the work cycle, not outside of it. In periodic intervals around the completion of a project, I have lately given myself permission to watch “Deadwood: The Movie,” to nap over the newspaper, to take a walk and restore the white space for complex thinking and writing. It can feel indulgent. It can feel … lazy. But the difference between lazing around and laissez-faire is that I’m actually going about the business of my business.

And on the feeling of guilt that comes with not accomplishing anything or being unproductive:

Protecting and practicing fallow time is an act of resistance; it can make us feel out of step with what the prevailing culture tells us. The 24/7 hamster wheel of work, the constant accessibility and the impatient press of social media all hasten the anxiety over someone else’s judgment. If you aren’t visibly producing, you aren’t worthy. In this context, taking time to lie dormant feels greedy, even wasteful. 

As a person who’s almost always doing something and has a tendency to overschedule herself, this piece really made a lot of sense to me. And I’m hoping to carve out more time to do nothing this summer! Maybe I will even finally get around to reading the book everyone’s been talking about this summer on this very topic… Jenny O’Dell’s How to Do Nothing.

What I’m reading

You are doing something important when you aren’t doing anything, New York Times.

Your professional decline is coming (much) sooner than you think, The Atlantic.

The tyranny of workplace food shamers, The Atlantic.

No male editor has ever accepted my pitches on abortion, Columbia Journalism Review.

People love to hate the garlic press, Taste Cooking. I am very firmly on team garlic press, FWIW.

The mommy blog is dead. Long live the mommy blog, Topic.

Work is like water, New York Times.

Elizabeth Warren is completely serious, New York Times Magazine.

Here’s some money advice: just buy the coffee, New York Times. Financial advice that shames people for buying coffee is bad!!

Want to be a male ally? Start by cleaning the house, The Guardian.


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