Idle Worship!


Yes, this is different from the ‘ idol worship ‘ that we are so used to hearing. Though phonetics will continue to play its part.  And so would ‘ herd mentality ‘ or is it ‘ heard mentality ‘?


I was intrigued by this line from a 2012 New York Times blog quoted by the essayist and cartoonist Tim Kreider, providing a memorable self-description ” I am not busy. I am the laziest ambitious person I know “. He continues, and I can imagine, reluctantly to add ‘ I’ve insidiously started, because of professional obligations, to become busy…every morning my in-box was full of emails asking me to do things that I did not want to do or presenting me with problems that I now had to solve “.


This thinking runs starkly counter to the ‘ hustle and be productive ‘ culture that we are outrageously immersed in.


ESSENTIALism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Sounds blasphemous in this day and age. The art of separating the trivial many from the vital few. A few years ago, I came across this fascinating book and after a gentle outreach and gracious response from Greg McKeown, the author, had me falling for the content Book, Line and Sinker.


There has been always something obscene about the cult of the hustle, the treadmill of alienated insecurity that tells you that the moment you stop running for even an instant, you will be flung flat on your face. Arbeit Macht FreiMeaning work sets you free. These words first appeared in an 1873 German novel. And later got adopted by Nazis as a slogan. The mantra of work as freedom or a magical route to happiness has proved incredibly resilient.


A study called “Slack Time and Innovation” shows that even companies like Google, 3M and Wella encourage their workers to be innovative besides their strongly innovation-oriented work environments, by providing slack time. As Paul Graham, Y-Combinator founder, wrote: “Microsoft and Facebook both got started in January. At Harvard that is (or was) Reading Period, when students have no classes to attend because they’re supposed to be studying for finals.”


Many innovative ideas seem to be generated as side projects by employees and students.


Tim Kreider has an explanation- Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as Vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets…it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.


According to award-winning author and innovator Phil McKinney, slack time allows the brain to roam freely, decreases stress, provides an opportunity to refresh, and, ultimately, creates  a better work environment, making people happier and more productive.


How about maintaining a ‘ ledger of slack ‘ ?

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