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The importance of not working

It’s hard to stop working. Sometimes, when I try not to work, I just keep thinking more about work and what I need to get done. But, that’s about to change.

jens darkness

I’m watching the Christmas tree in the living room, to the left, and I’m watching the fire in the fireplace, to the right. I’m thinking about how much I’ve been working this year, and that right now, I was not going to be working. But, here I am, typing on my computer. It’s all about the definition of work I guess. I’m writing this blog post, that’s it. I’m typing it fast, I just want to get this out of my head, and that’s all the work I’m doing this Christmas. I’m doing the work, while my family is sleeping. I’m thinking that they won’t notice. But, I’m not really sure.

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking of the time when I was not working when I visited Italy in September. One week, without being online. At the same time, I’m thinking of how I was working when I was living in a tent. I got a lot done, but It was different. It was like I wasn’t exactly working.

I was much more relaxed in Italy, then I’ve ever been. The reason, was that I had decided that I wasn’t going to work, and that I was more or less just relaxing in the sun and walking, visiting some very nice small villages. I was eating pizza, and just relaxing. I guess I just said that, but I was really focusing hard on relaxing and unplugging from everything.

I didn’t think about work, not for a minute. It was easier than I thought it would be. I was in a different country. The weather was awesome. And I was experiencing a lot of new things and meeting new people.

What happened was that, when I arrived home, my head was full of ideas, and I had more energy than ever. I didn’t plan for anything to happen. I just arrived in Norway, at the airport, with all these ideas and thoughts about life, that I didn’t have when I left home.

That’s what happened when I was not working.

Now, at the end of the year, I’m thinking that like Kaarina, I am looking for a simpler time. I want peace, happiness, health, focus and results. And, I believe that I’ll get it by not working for short periods, and by not being online as much as I’ve been. Right now, I’m about to watch Stefan Sagmeister’s TED talk for the third time. And, I recommend that you do as well. His talk inspired me to plan 2014 to be a very different year.

Stefan Sagmeister, explains the power of time off. He closes his design studio for 1 year, every 7 years – and the results are… well, watch it and you’ll see.

Let me know, what are you doing this Christmas?

15 responses to “The importance of not working”

  1. Jens, oh I hear you 😉 I worked some and spent time with my family on Christmas. I feel the energy behind your work – or rest – makes or breaks your blog and business. Learning how to work calmly instead of feeling stressed and to rest calmly instead of worrying about NOT working is an art form. Getting better here 😉 Thanks!

    • Hi Ryan,

      It sounds like you’ve had a great time so far this Christmas. I’m with my family as well, and spending time with them and resting will be very helpful for the plans I have for 2014.

      – Jens

  2. I wish it all to you my friend:) May 2014 allow us to reflect, rejuvenate and recalibrate. So many people are considering the extent of their online investment and involvement. I do know that, for me, 2014 will be a time to simplify. Wishing you all the best! Cheers! Kaarina

  3. Ron Killian says:

    I am one of those can’t stop working either. Hard for me to take time off. Part of the problem is when I go to bed, if I have my thoughts on business, i am restless and often can’t sleep and then end up getting up.

    The idea seems solid and it makes sense, but getting yourself to do it, that’s the trick no? Easier said than done? LOL

    Thanks for the read Jans, defiantly be thinking more about it myself.

    • Hi Ron,

      I understand what you’re saying. I really enjoy thinking about work, but we need a break from time to time. And, it’s so much more fun to get back at work when we’ve had a break, don’t you think?

      I know, it’s a lot easier said than done. But, I believe that if we try hard enough, we’ll eventually make it. I haven’t been working for four days, and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. It might be because I have been successful doing it before (when I was in Italy).

      I believe we just need to plan when we’re not going to be working (and thinking about work).

      – Jens

  4. Kyle Hines says:


    Great article on the benefits of relaxation and clearing one’s mind. Without time to recenter and relax, we would likely never enjoy the benefits of new and changing perspective. I think I’ll join you in simplifying for 2014!



  5. Carolyn Nicander Mohr says:

    Hi Jens, I’m just like you. When I take my breaks I am the most inspired. Even in the middle of writing an article, I sometimes take a break and go for a walk to clear my head. It does wonders!

    I’m about to take a week’s break from the blog but I have posts scheduled to publish while I’m away. When I go away I won’t have Internet connection so I am forced to go “cold turkey” which is very refreshing. Probably no pizza though!

    Happy New Year, Jens!

  6. Tim Bonner says:

    Hi Jens

    I struggle to switch off from work – if that’s what I can call blogging!

    Even when I’m not blogging, I’m thinking about it but I really need to simplify things in 2014 as well.

    There are quite a few things I’m going to scale down in the New Year. Social media and commenting being two of those things. If I do that, then I can concentrate more on writing.

    I know it will probably affect my traffic and reciprocal comments, however I’m only now going to comment on things that interest me. If they don’t I won’t comment and share.

    Just like saying thank you for the sake of it on social media, I don’t think commenting for the sake of it is something I’m going to take forward!

    I’m also going to concentrate more on the things that are making me money like niche sites. I plan to set another one up in the new year but also to add more content to my existing one.

    I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone. I definitely need to slow down and whilst I do spend lots of time with my family, I’m not always sure it’s quality time. That’s something I want and need to change.

    My wife often comments she talks to the back of my head because I’m always at the computer!

    Anyway, I hope you enjoy the next few days and have a very Happy New Year Jens.


  7. Steve S. says:

    Interesting article! It’s not common to find something like this in today’s age of glorifying working excess hours and making money. Life is meant to be lived – not to be working as hard as possible. We need time to fill our minds with creativity and learn to enjoy life. Einstein said,”Creativity is more important than knowledge.”

    • Hey Steve,

      Thank you so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I absolutely agree with you. Many people are focusing on the “wrong” path to a successful life. On the other hand, the path is different for all of us. We just need to understand what makes us happy.

  8. Pau says:

    Really nice post. I guess some can really get addicted to work, while others have the opposite problem – no matter who we are, we all need time off to recharge and get inspired.

    I personally work every single day, but the days I take it easy I only do 1 hour, and make sure to get plenty of time off doing things I like. That seems to be enough and though I haven’t been doing it for long, I don’t need full days or weeks off, yet 😉

  9. MightyTravels says:

    Good stuff – but as a blogger it’s hard to switch off your laptop completely. Maybe I should learn that…

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