Science says it’s essential to make time to do nothing. Here’s why?

Over the past decade, Nothing I’ve tried to understand the social and psychological effects of our growing interactions with new information and communication technologies, a topic I examine in my book “The Terminal Self: Everyday Life in Hypermodern Times.”In this 24/7, “always on” age, the prospect of doing nothing might sound unrealistic and unreasonable.

But it’s never been more important.

Acceleration for the sake of acceleration


In an age of incredible advancements that can enhance our human potential and planetary health, why does daily life seem so overwhelming and anxiety-inducing?

Why aren’t things easier?

It’s a complex question, but one way to explain this irrational state of affairs is something called the force of acceleration.


According to German critical theorist Hartmut Rosa, accelerated technological developments have driven the acceleration in the pace of change in social institutions.

We see this on factory floors, where “. The more emails you receive, the more time you need to process them. It requires that you either accomplish this or another task in less time, that you perform several tasks at once, or that you take less time in between reading and responding to emails.

Prime time isn’t downtime

All these years, I thought downtime just meant zoning out—giving myself permission to stare at the TV and forget about work. But actually, true downtime means no goal and no focused attention.

Watching a show on Netflix, then, isn’t downtime because it requires focused attention. If anything, it’s closer to work than it is to downtime. Same goes for social media apps. Even going to the gym doesn’t qualify as downtime. When you run sprints or lift weights, you’re working toward a goal—and concentrating on what you’re doing. And that means it’s not downtime.


Even mindfulness meditation doesn’t qualify, since it too requires focused attention. Meditation practices like mindfulness of the breath require you to place your focus on the present moment, training yourself to notice when your mind wanders.

I realized the only actual downtime I had was in the shower. And sure enough, bathtime has always been my best time for making connections, having creative insights, and coming up with story ideas.

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