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Do nothing : how to break away from overworking, overdoing, and underliving

by Headlee, Celeste Anne, 1969-

Format: Print Book 2020
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"A welcome antidote to our toxic hustle culture of burnout."--Arianna Huffington
"This book is so important and could truly save lives."--Elizabeth Gilbert
"A clarion call to work smarter [and] accomplish more by doing less."--Adam Grant

We work feverishly to make ourselves happy. So why are we so miserable?

Despite our constant search for new ways to optimize our bodies and minds for peak performance, human beings are working more instead of less, living harder not smarter, and becoming more lonely and anxious. We strive for the absolute best in every aspect of our lives, ignoring what we do well naturally and reaching for a bar that keeps rising higher and higher. Why do we measure our time in terms of efficiency instead of meaning? Why can't we just take a break?

In Do Nothing, award-winning journalist Celeste Headlee illuminates a new path ahead, seeking to institute a global shift in our thinking so we can stop sabotaging our well-being, put work aside, and start living instead of doing. As it turns out, we're searching for external solutions to an internal problem. We won't find what we're searching for in punishing diets, productivity apps, or the latest self-improvement schemes. Yet all is not lost--we just need to learn how to take time for ourselves, without agenda or profit, and redefine what is truly worthwhile.

Pulling together threads from history, neuroscience, social science, and even paleontology, Headlee examines long-held assumptions about time use, idleness, hard work, and even our ultimate goals. Her research reveals that the habits we cling to are doing us harm; they developed recently in human history, which means they are habits that can, and must, be broken. It's time to reverse the trend that's making us all sadder, sicker, and less productive, and return to a way of life that allows us to thrive.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Headlee (We Need To Talk, 2017) states that "we have lost our capacity for light-heartedness and play," and she delves into ways to promote humanity and connectedness in a world that seems too busy to notice. She tackles the efficiency culture in the first half of the book, describing familiar scenarios like being overscheduled. The second part of the book helps readers focus on getting their lives back by embracing leisure and idleness, which she describes as "nonproductive activity." Advocating more than just presence, she is challenging readers to make a shift to start living instead of doing. Some tips include making a schedule to fit in important things you want to do daily, limiting time spent using electronics, not working overtime, making time for people, having hobbies . . . and, of course, doing nothing. Headlee gives tips on how to develop "end goals" to make this shift in thinking while not viewing the guide as another efficiency and productivity tool. The book's conversational tone draws readers in, and it will appeal to those looking beyond self-help to something more meaningful."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Journalist Headlee (We Need to Talk) joins the crush of authors speaking out against society's addiction to "efficiency without purpose and productivity without production" in this comforting, convincing work. She begins by locating the origins of "the cult of efficiency": before the industrial age, people enjoyed a different concept of work, one that did not consider time equal to money. Once "more hours meant more money," the concept of work shifted, and so, too, did culture. In Headlee's estimation, society drastically overvalues putting in long hours at the office and pursuing "constant improvement and the most efficient life possible" in hobbies, exercise routines, and even time spent with families. The cost of this, she writes, is high: it not only comes at the expense of true productivity (as opposed to "performative busyness") , but also of happiness. Headlee provides concrete steps to help readers take control of their time, "challenge perceptions," and "take the long view." For example, time tracking will help readers gain a clearer vision of their working and leisure hours, which in turn will help them reprioritize. While there is little new advice to be found here, this will resonate with readers who appreciate works in the spirit of Jenny Oddell's How to Do Nothing. (Feb.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Leisure.
Work -- Psychological aspects.
Self-help publications.
Creative nonfiction.
Publisher New York :2020
Edition First edition.
Language English
Description xx, 268 pages ; 22 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 246-258) and index.
ISBN 9781984824738
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