Posted in Family, Personal life, Writing

Busy Doing Nothing

(This post  about taking time out to relax was originally published in the November 2014 Hawkesbury Parish News)

Photos of three of my old childhood diaries
Some diaries from my younger years

“Unstructured time” is the new buzz phrase that suddenly seems to be everywhere. Psychologists are now recommending that to be healthier and happier, we should cut ourselves some slack and spend less time in organised activities. Resting and relaxing allows our minds, spirits and energy levels to be restored and renewed – but in our busy age, there’s a myth that if you’re not busy, you’re wasting your time.

I’m certainly guilty of falling for that myth. And with a constantly packed schedule myself, I’m conscious that my daughter (11) is heading in the same direction, with at least one extra-curricular activity every day. We love all our hobbies and don’t want to give them up, but sometimes we feel under siege from them.

This is why I’m happy to let my daughter free-range, so to speak, whenever there’s the opportunity to just relax and play, and it would do me good to follow suit. Adults have just as much to gain from being idle.The restorative power of pottering about should not be underestimated. Whenever I have an enforced period of inactivity due to illness, I always notice afterwards that I’m filled with energy and ideas.

My biggest challenge is simply to make myself do nothing. My obsession with filling my diary drives my husband to despair. Whenever a gap appears, I rush to schedule an outing or appointment.

So following the latest news report that we’d all be healthier and happier for some unstructured down-time, I’m determined to be busy doing nothing now and again. I hope it’s not cheating if I schedule that in my diary.


English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

4 thoughts on “Busy Doing Nothing

  1. Debbie, I know exactly what you mean. Brought up by a single mother, and now self-employed for 25 years, I feel guilty if I’m not working – but then go through episodes of indulging in distractions like Facebook and commenting on people’s blogs! 😀

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