The sweetness of doing nothing

by Todd Foley

Confession 1: I love check lists.

I use them every day at work and constantly update them according to how the day has progressed. As the end of my shift approaches, I rewrite the list for the next day and arrange my priorities so as to accomplish the most important task first. When I get home (on days when my wife works an evening shift and I’m home alone with my toddler), I’ll create a detailed list of things to get done before my wife gets home. Then, when I’ve completed them all, I’ll retreat to the couch and fire up Netflix.

I have taken greater care to prioritize my time with my recent freelance contracts. Last weekend, I had two major deadlines to hit by end of day Saturday. My wife worked the day so I had to utilize those two hours my daughter would be napping (fingers crossed for a full two hours!) and then the evening hours after she was asleep. It’s a fine art of organized madness, and I managed to meet my deadlines (with an exhausted Todd at the conclusion).

Confession 2: I love chick flicks.

Don’t judge me too harshly. I love my indies, blockbusters and pretty much any Oscar contender, but I have a sweet spot for feel-good stories that are detached from reality and make me feel all the feels.

When I was in university, I always worked best with a movie playing in the background, one which I was familiar with enough so that I wouldn’t have to pay attention but could look up from time to time and know what was going on. The Devil Wears Prada and Definitely, Maybe made regular appearances, and they still do when I’m doing freelance work at home.

On the aforementioned crazy Saturday, my flick of choice was Eat, Pray, Love. I was about an hour into my daughter’s nap and working away, stressed that I wouldn’t hit my targets before she woke up. Naturally, I was also stressed about all I still had to finish by end of day. Here I was, filling what was supposed to be a restful day with my daughter with too many deadlines and enough stress to flood my mind with anxious thoughts.

Then I looked up, and saw this.

Thank you, Italy. Thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert.

Confession #3: I’ve made room for nothing.

I pride myself on completing lists, beating deadlines and proactively working on future projects. I always get done what needs to be done, and I love to plan and use my time wisely. Part of that utilization has been allowing myself to make room for the sweetness of doing nothing. In that “nothingness,” I’ve found the life-giving rest I had forgotten I needed.

One of my biggest takeaways from therapy was that my mental and emotional wellness deserve just as much care as any other aspect of my life (all the more so as an introvert), and really should come first so that I can live and love more fully.

I’m not starting my own Eat, Pray, Love journey (although I wouldn’t complain about eating more pizza); I love my full, busy and chaotic life. But I’ve let go of that false guilt that shames me for slowing down and saying “No” from time to time.

Have you said “yes” to doing nothing lately? You should. It’s a beautiful thing.

“Wisely and slowly; they stumble that run fast.”
― Hugh Howey, Wool Omnibus