Niksen: The Power of Doing Nothing in a Productive World

Niksen: The Power of Doing Nothing in a Productive World

Niksen, the Dutch practice of doing absolutely nothing, is emerging as a vital component in embracing a more unplugged and mindful lifestyle. This concept, focusing on the art of idleness without any aim to be productive or fulfill a purpose, stands as a counterbalance to our always-on, productivity-obsessed culture.

The simplicity of Niksen, where one could simply stare out a window, daydream, or enjoy the aroma of coffee without the urge to accomplish something, aligns beautifully with the ethos of slowing down and fostering a deeper connection with oneself and the surrounding world​​.

The Power of Doing Nothing

Authors and cultural commentators have explored the numerous benefits that this practice offers. For instance, doing nothing purposefully or with no purpose at all can help decrease anxiety, boost creativity, and enhance productivity​​. This approach to life not only aids in stress reduction but also plays a significant role in re-engaging and rejuvenating the mind by allowing it space to breathe and wander. Niksen is praised for its ability to stimulate a state of mindlessness, a conscious decision to disengage and let the mind roam freely, which contrasts yet complements the principles of mindfulness.​

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…Including you.”

Anne Lamott

Implementing Niksen into daily life can start with scheduling short intervals of doing nothing throughout the day, which is especially important in our busy lives filled with endless tasks and responsibilities. It can be as simple as taking a device-free break, allowing oneself to daydream, or engaging in a leisurely walk without a destination​​. Authors like Annette Lavrijsen suggest that embracing Niksen can lead to better priority management, enhanced time management, and a more harmonious balance between work and private life, boosting overall happiness and creativity.​

Setting Boundaries for Niksen Time

Setting boundaries for practicing Niksen involves recognizing and overcoming the initial guilt or discomfort that may arise from doing nothing. It’s about creating a device-free space and choosing activities that require minimal cognitive effort, thus allowing the mind the freedom to wander​​. This could involve simple pleasures like watching the rain, observing pets, or even the meditative act of watching coffee brew, emphasizing the importance of not multitasking during these moments to embrace the essence of Niksen fully​

Addressing common challenges with Niksen involves acknowledging the societal pressures always to be productive and the internalized guilt that may accompany periods of inactivity. Embracing Niksen means understanding its value as a form of self-care and well-being, not as a lapse into laziness but as a meaningful pause that rejuvenates the mind and body​

Niksen offers a unique approach to self-care and mental health, encouraging reevaluating our relationship with time and productivity. By integrating periods of purposeful inactivity into our daily routines, we can foster a deeper sense of peace, creativity, and fulfillment. This practice not only aligns with the principles of unplugging from the digital world but also serves as a powerful reminder of the beauty and necessity of simply being rather than constantly doing.

Articles + Resources

Niksen Is the Dutch Lifestyle Concept of Doing Nothing—And You’re About to See It Everywhere

Ease productivity overload with “niksen,” the Dutch art of doing nothing


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