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How to Find Some Time to Do Nothing

By June 27, 2021October 4th, 202313 Comments

We are all busy. Many of us are busy with family, job, volunteer work, or a mix of everything. It’s a juggling act! As a professional organizer one of the things I juggle is how I spend my time. It’s important to find some time in our busy-ness to do nothing.

What does doing nothing mean?

Doing nothing means you are not doing anything on your ‘to-do’ task list. You know you are always doing something. You can be selective and find some time for something you love to do.

So often when someone asks, “what are you doing?” If I’m not doing something on my task list, I reply, “nothing”. But honestly I am either watching tv, reading a book or a magazine, working on my needlepoint, or maybe perusing social media.

When we say we are doing nothing we mean we are doing nothing important. I dislike writing that because the things I do when I am doing nothing are important to me. But it’s ok to interrupt me when I’m doing them. A better response than saying ‘nothing’ may be ‘it’s ok to interrupt me’. That lets the person asking know that whatever it is that I’m doing, I can stop for a few minutes to talk to them or help them with a task.

Find some time to do the things you do when you are doing nothing.

Why is it important to do nothing?

When you are doing nothing, you give your mind the space to dream, to think outside the box, and to have those Ah-Ha moments. One of the reasons I love my early morning walks with my dogs, Miles and Josie, is that I let my mind wander. I just walk along with my dogs.

We listen to the birds, admire the flowers and the gardens in the front of people’s houses. As we continue our walk things sometimes pop into my brain. It can be an idea for a gift, something to do, or someplace to visit, the solution to a client’s organizing problem, or an idea for a blog.

Sometimes nothing interesting or important occurs to me and that is fine, too. The peace and quiet of this early morning walk with Miles and Josie is something I treasure.

I also let my mind wander when I sit and work on my sewing. I love to do fine petit point needlework and am currently working on a needlepoint Christmas stocking for my grandson. This is a task I love but also one that I do when I’m doing nothing.

It’s easiest for me to find some time to do nothing in the early morning and in the evening.

What do you do when you’re doing nothing?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Nap
  • Read a book for fun
  • Putter in the garden
  • Sit in a quiet place
  • Relax in a hammock
  • Gaze at the stars
  • Pet a dog or cat
  • Take a walk

How can you find some time?

My friend and colleague, Jonda Beattie, sets aside 2 days a month to spend with her husband doing things they want to do or doing nothing at all – just spending time together.

Can you plan a day like that?

Put some boundaries in place to help you find some time in which to do nothing. You may decide that once a month you will have a day to yourself. A day during which you will decide how you want to spend the time.

Maybe you meet up with friends for an adventure.

Or maybe you spend the day playing tourist in your hometown.

You can get up very early (like I do) and have some time in the morning to just be.

Where you decide to find some time is up to you but do not underestimate the value of doing nothing. It feeds your soul. This is another way to take care of yourself. We all know that you must take good care of yourself so that you can take care of those you love. Find some time during the day to do nothing. Every now and then find an entire day, maybe even a couple of days in a row, to be unscheduled.

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Contact Diane for a free 30-minute phone consultation.


  • I love finding time to do nothing. I usually read or sit on my back porch and listen to nature.

  • Julie Bestry says:

    Great call! I have a friend who is a real superstar when it comes to accomplishing things — and not just things on her list, but studying five languages and practicing four instruments, on top of a high-powered job. She feels “guilty” if she takes a nap, or hasn’t worked out by 6 a.m. Me? Similarly, I have friends whose children are schedule for every minute of every day, with lessons and even “structured play time” (what is that!) so that there’s no room for serendipity. I love working with clients or accomplishing a task that I find meaningful, but I’ve taken a lifetime to get comfortable with the idea that the purpose of life is to enjoy it. Research shows that downtime and “boredom” are peak opportunities for creativity. I’ve taken some social media off of my devices to increase my chance to have downtime for thinking and noticing, and I already live a life where I have plenty of free time. For people will limited margin in their lives, they need “nothing” time all the more.

    Now I want a hammock!

  • I’m with you 100% on this one about having unscheduled time away from the “to do” list. Because the list of “do nothing” that you suggested are, in fact, doing something. But the idea behind those suggestions is that it gives you unplanned time to be and not strive for a particular goal. I like to think of these days or parts of days as “wander” time. I read recently how people don’t know how to be bored anymore. But the value of boredom is that the mind can wander. And when it’s in that mode, so much can happen. We can reset, dream, discover ideas, resolve internal conflicts, and more. However, boredom is so rare, especially because of our dependence and access to our digital devices. Instead of just being, we tend to scroll or check. There is beauty and calm with leaning into the “do nothing” or wandering times. It’s more important now than ever. I am grateful for your reminder.

  • Lucy Kelly says:

    I can see that I need to schedule the times when I do ‘nothing’, so I can do them deliberately and with joy. i agree with you, our mind needs thee times and without them, life quickly becomes all work and no play. It’s going to be fun to see that ‘nothing appointment’ pop up on my planner too!

  • Lisa Gessert says:

    Loved this…we all need some time to do nothing!!!

  • I do find that quieting my brain really does help me determine direction on an issue I may have. Walking in my backyard, gardening, and taking walks are great for me to quiet down and reinvent or just do nothing. Great post! Thanks for sharing.

  • Seana Turner says:

    Great observation here… that when we aren’t doing something on the list, we feel like we are doing nothing. But there really is value in nothing! Our brains really aren’t supposed to be constantly productive, and I think we experience consequences (physically, emotionally, spiritually) when we aren’t giving our minds a chance to rest, refresh, and recover.

    I enjoy mornings as well, but I am usually exercising and doing devotions. For me, the “nothing” time comes primarily on Sundays when I allow myself to set the list aside. I don’t always fully succeed, but at least I try!

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