Note To Self

I Took A Break, And I Had A Breakthrough

In the latest edition of Note To Self, FW editor Emily Brooks muses on the importance of procrastination.

By Emily Brooks

Note To Self

In the latest edition of Note To Self, FW editor Emily Brooks muses on the importance of procrastination.

By Emily Brooks

I couldn’t come up with a topic for this newsletter. So I walked away, chatted to my Significant Other about the pros and cons of nut milk for a bit and now I’m back, with a topic for this newsletter. Writer’s block is a funny thing. Pushing your way through sometimes works, but mostly it does not. Taking space is required to collect your thoughts and find clarity before letting momentum do its thing on your keyboard. Life, like an article, requires space. But as Life’s Hampster Wheel spins faster and the competing responsibilities grow greater it is not only harder to find the time for space, but it’s harder to sit with it. It feels uncomfortable, unnatural. Wrong, even. So you get up and do the washing or check your emails instead of sitting with that book you’ve been meaning to read every Saturday afternoon. It feels like a luxury you haven’t earned when it is, in fact, a necessity. Doing Nothing isn’t nothing. Doing Nothing is Something. Something very important.

Let’s first start with your sanity. You don’t need me to tell you about the value of “unplugging”. You know that. You crave that. Particularly after a tough day at work. But unplugging with your Instagram feed or Net-A-Porter’s ‘What’s New’ tab is very different to Doing Precisely Nothing, alone. Choosing a book or quiet moment with the sunset, tech-free, requires slightly more willpower. So does walking from meeting to meeting without checking your phone. Because you cut the noise which is sometimes uncomfortable, yet these moments of complete idleness deliver benefits far superior. Alan Lightman’s new book, In Praise Of Wasting Time, argues regular “periods of calm” are essential to our mental health. Psychologists have long argued bouncing from one demand to another locks our mind in “reaction mode”. Those knee-jerk reactions you make? Probably a case of not enough alone time (and definitely too much coffee). But Lightman also argues space for ourselves is vital for our sense of self. “If we’re unable to take the time to reflect and learn more about ourselves, we lose the ability to know what is important to us, and our connection with the world.” Space is your personal compass gently putting you back on The Right Path in the world. A University of Southern California study also backs this up, showing idleness allows the brain to dedicate time to “psychosocial mental processing” which includes processing personal memories, feeling social emotions with moral connotations and envisaging the future.

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