The Dutch language has a beautiful word: It’s called ‘niksen.’ It literally means: To nothing.
Niksen can be considered as an activity where you sit down on the sofa or lie down on your bed and – you’ve guessed it—, do nothing. You just sit there and stare.
Back in the days when I was a kid, I was great at niksen. But nowadays, I realize that niksen has become more difficult. First, I have a lot of important things to do. I used to study for 4 years, I’ve had a full time job, and now I am an entrepreneur. There is little time left for doing nothing. Especially when I have fun activities planned during evenings and weekends.
But there’s a more dominant cause that prevents me from doing nothing: Electronic devices and online media. Since the rise of Apple, Google and Facebook, the chances are high that you will find me on a smartphone watching YouTube or accessing Social Media after work.
And that can be a problem for your creativity, productivity and even for your own sanity.
Because the goal of ‘niksen’ is to separate yourself from all busy activities and all the stimuli your brain receives. If you don’t grant yourself any time to do literally nothing, your mind essentially stays on 24/7.
Cal Newport, writer of ‘Deep Work’ says that you should grant yourself the chance to be bored. Being bored is a thing that sounds — uhm, boring. But boredom is beneficial for your mental health. Boredom can also improve your creativity and your attention span.
Newport introduced a very interesting tactic to improve your habit of ‘niksen’, or being bored: Normally, when being bored, we would always look for our phone. We must resist that urge. Are you waiting in a queue? Don’t pick up your phone. Family or friend gathering? Don’t pick up your phone. Commuting to work? Don’t pick up your phone.
Use these moments to let your brain restore and to let your creativity flow. Because when you ‘niks’, and when you are bored, the most interesting ideas arise.