Generally speaking, our culture does not promote sitting still, and that can have wide-reaching consequences for our mental health, well-being, productivity and other areas of our lives. Technology doesn’t make it any easier: the smartphone you carry with you at all hours makes it almost impossible to truly unplug and embrace idleness. And by keeping ourselves busy at all times, we may be losing our ability to sit still because our brains are actually being rewired.
Indeed, the benefits of idleness can be wide-ranging.
Ms. Mann’s research has found that daydreaming — an inevitable effect of idleness — “literally makes us more creative, better at problem-solving, better at coming up with creative ideas.” For that to happen, though, total idleness is required.“Let the mind search for its own stimulation,” Ms. Mann said. “That’s when you get the daydreaming and mind wandering, and that’s when you’re more likely to get the creativity.”
Counterintuitively, idleness can be a great productivity tool because “if our energy is totally shot, our productivity is not going to be good because we’re not going to have fuel to burn with which to be produttive,” said Chris Bailey, a productivity expert and author of the blog “A Life of Productivity.”