Book Review & Takeaways: Do Nothing by Celeste Headlee

Relaxing is not my strong suit. Of course, I always feel better after taking a break. But I'm constantly catching myself trying to squeeze in one more thing (or twenty) before I call it quits for the day.

I recently turned to Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving by Celeste Headlee for a much-needed CTFO pep-talk.

Do Nothing by Celeste Headlee - Free Period Press

Making Time to Do Nothing

I find myself continually reading books and listening to podcasts about rest. It turns out I need lots of reminders not to be working all the time. This helps shake me out of my "mindlessly busy" habits. (Hurry Slowly, a podcast about slowing down, is one of my other favorites along the same vein.)

Headlee summarizes her favorite “life-backs” (a play on the term, “life-hacks”) to help us break our addictions to “efficiency without purpose and productivity without production.” I’ve included a short description when the tips are less self-explanatory:  

  • Schedule leisure.
  • Schedule social time.
  • Create your ideal schedule.
  • Work in teams. “We have evolved to think in groups and bounce ideas off others. Analysis of data from diverse industries going back decades shows that even the most experienced expert reaches better conclusions when their recommendations are merged with the advice of less-knowledgeable people,” she says. Another tip from Headlee: Brainstorm alone, but evaluate your ideas as a group.
  • Work fewer hours.
  • Commit small, selfless acts. Add this to your daily to-do list!
  • Stop comparing at a distance.
  • Focus on ends, not means. Be wary of “means goals” like getting a promotion or losing a certain amount of weight. Instead, focus on “end goals” like creating better products or living longer. For most of us, our end goal is “living a good life.” “End goals often provide a direction—going west—instead of a specific destination.
  • Increase time perception. This means becoming more aware of what you do between waking and sleeping.

I also love this quote she cited: "Charity is really self-interest masquerading under the form of altruism." -Anthony de Mello

Are you also in need of a CTFO pep-talk? Check out the book here or at your local library! You can also read or listen to an interview with the author on NPR.

Browse other books I’ve been enjoying:

Big Dreams, Daily Joys by Elise Blaha Cripe

Do Nothing by Celeste Headlee Takeaways - Free Period Press

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