When ‘Do Nothing’ is the Perfect Strategy

In our action-overloaded western culture, we have a tendency to feel compulsively obligated to be doing 'something' every waking moment. This can translate into workplaces that are high in adrenaline, yet not always high on effectiveness or positivity. Stress can escalate when we never take the time to step off the treadmill throughout our day. When is 'do nothing' the right strategy?

There are specific types of situations in which 'do nothing' may be the most appropriate action (or non-action). I would call the first category 'emotionally-charged' situations: this is where either yourself or another person is highly emotional, perhaps with anger or distress. If you are aware of this, then at these times it is best to stop because 'when the emotion is high, the intelligence is low.' It is perfectly okay to take a break and to ask if the other person would mind if you resume your conversation later (make a specific time to reconnect). The second category is when you simply feel 'overloaded' mentally and/or emotionally at work: it is better to take a break and simply breathe and relax until you can refocus again (even doing short mindfulness meditation is helpful). Try doing nothing instead of pushing ahead – I think you'll find it a refreshing antidote. Finally, the last category is to enhance our creativity - only when we're relaxed can we let new ideas bubble to the surface.