Do Nothing By Celeste Headlee

While the title screams generic self help, Do Nothing is far from it. Rather than preaching tips on how to optimize your time, the book analyzes history and nueroscience to show how we have been conditioned to work hard even at the cost of our mental and physical well being. Packed with tons of interesting research and data, this book will show you the importance of idleness and totally dismantle any preconceived notions you may have about the concept “Time is money.”

Rating: 5/5 (Highly Recommend!) 



  • Far too many of us have been lured into the cult of efficiency. We are driven, but we long ago lost sight of what we were driving toward. We judge our days based on how efficient they are, not how fulfilling. 
  • Human are “the only animal whose desires increases as they are fed; the only animal that is never satisfied.”
  • The first paycheck dates back 5,000 years to a city in what is now Iraq. In exchange for their labor, someone was paid in beer. 
  • So valuable had time become that many unscrupulous business owners would adjust their clocks during the day to get more hours out of their unsuspecting labourers. 
  • When time is money, idle hours are a waste of money. This is the philosophical underpinnings of all our modern stress: that time is too valuable to waste. We don’t pass time, we spend it. 
  • Time becomes money. It‘s ironic that they give you a watch, isn’t it? 
  • Ever since a clock was first used to synchronize labour in the 18th century, time has been understood in relation to money. Once hours are financially qualified, people worry more about wasting, saving or using them profitably. When economies grow and incomes rise, everyone’s time becomes more valuable.
  • Research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health shows that about 40% of workers feel “overworked, pressured, and squeeze to the point of anxiety, depression, and disease.”
  • By some estimates, businesses in the United States alone lose more than $300 billion every year because of absenteeism and healthcare costs related to stress and anxiety.
  • Overwork is defined as more than 50 hours per week, and people who put in those kind of hours make only 6% more than those with more reasonable schedules. So if you make an average wage of $45,000 a year, you’ll get an extra $2,500 in exchange for working excessive hours. 
  • Using a computer to take notes is inferior to writing in longhand when it comes to comprehension and retention. 
  • Our attention is now nearly always divided, because we seem to be always working on something. Our hobbies have become goals. Our homes have become offices and our free time is not free. 
  • A survey of 485 separate studies demonstrated conclusively that people who like their work are more likely to be healthy in body and mind. Also, they are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression than those who are either unemployed or who don’t like their jobs. 
  • For every extra year a person works, their chance of suffering dementia drops by 3%. 

List of Human Needs:

1. Food 2. Water 3. Shelter 4. Sleep 5. Human connection 6. Novelty 

  • According to data from the United Nations, work kills more than twice as many people annually than war does and more than both drugs and alcohol combined. 
  • Laziness is the underlying motivation beneath a great deal of innovation. The first person who thought of putting a sail on a boat wanted to get out of rowing. 
  • When the mind is at rest, it is still active. In fact, it uses only 5% less energy than it does when it’s focused on a task. Focus is required for directed work, but idleness is necessary for reflection. 
  • Research has shown that having a rich social life makes you less likely to get cancer or suffer a heart attack. People who belong to a community live longer, experience less stress, and a more likely to say their lives are meaningful. (Check out more on that HERE)
  • There is good evidence that the rigors of dealing with other people forced our brains to expand. Apes who belong to larger communities have larger brains than those who are more isolated. 
  • Loneliness and social isolation increase a persons risk of death by 25 to 30%. 
  • Coherent breathing is a method that trains people to slow respiration down to six breaths (or fewer) per minute. It turns out that slower breathing can improve your attention span, your decision making, and your cognitive function. 
  • The technical term for smart phone addiction is nomophobia, or the fear of being without your phone. 
  • Software designers have been so successful at drawing our attention that 10% of people admit to checking their phones during sex and 12% say they’ve looked at their phones while in the shower. 
  • According to a survey from Cigna, the most isolated and loneliest among us are the most technologically savvy: young people born since the mid-1990s
  • Keeping your eye on the clock, even subconsciously, can lead to a sharp drop in performance. Research shows that when you are highly aware of time passing, it even makes you less compassionate towards others. 
  • Altruism can produce the same elation as vigorous exercise, an effect that’s sometimes called the “helpers high.” 

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