How to do nothing

Author Jenny Odell talks about the attention economy and the value of being alone with one’s thoughts

Jenny Odell: ‘I think interiority is really underrated right now.’ Photograph: RichLegg/Getty Images

Jenny Odell: ‘I think interiority is really underrated right now.’ Photograph: RichLegg/Getty Images

Last modified on Tue 16 Apr 2019 17.41 BST

I n How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, the artist, writer and Stanford professor Jenny Odell questions “what we currently perceive as productive”. She wants to give readers permission to be a human, in a body, in a place.

Redirecting our attention towards our natural surroundings is Odell’s strategy for resisting a profit-driven tech landscape that, in separating our bodies and co-opting our attention, is possibly torching our ability to live meaningful lives, and preventing us from noticing. (Odell herself uses birdwatching as an antidote.)

Odell acknowledges that participating in this system is, for most people, not optional, and the book is dotted with examples of standing against the tide while remaining more-or-less in it – artists, labor movements, Oakland’s last old-growth redwood tree. The stakes, she argues, are high: “In a time that demands action, distraction appears to be a life-and-death matter.”

Your book encourages a broad shift in perspective. Where is our perspective stuck right now? What is the attention economy?

An extract from. How to do nothing Jenny Odell Out April 9

It’s this perspective in which time is money, and you should have something to show for your time – either getting work done, or self-improvement, which I would still count as work. Anything that detracts from that is too expensive, from the time-is-money perspective. And it ties into this idea that everything is a machine, and it just needs to be fixed, or made more efficient. It’s also a very present perspective – the bad kind of presence, being very wrapped up in whatever is happening right now, or what everyone is talking about on Twitter.

What does birdwatching do for you?

Years ago at Stanford, I would notice that if I was walking to class, no matter how stressed I was, birds were the one thing that could cut through that no matter what. Which is pretty amazing. A really nice flower, maybe. But birds – there’s something about them that’s always surprising. They’re so unpredictable, and there’s something about that that gets around anything that I might be thinking about.

And this feeds into something you write in the book – that part of being human is being surprised by everything around you, and shifting accordingly.

Yeah. Surprise is a way of being reminded that there’s something outside of you.

You write about how social media erodes our “right to not express oneself”. How do we demand that right?

That might be an interesting thing to try to do, but it shouldn’t be our responsibility – we didn’t create this problem. It’s not a solution, but that professional need to express oneself all the time, to have a take about everything, it’s not going to go away as long as a certain economic reality exists and the platform is designed a certain way. I don’t blame anyone for doing that, because you kind of have to. The change would have to come from the platform.

What is the benefit of not saying things all the time?

I think interiority is really underrated right now. That could just be my own bias. I seem to spend a lot of time trying to figure out ways to get away from other people. [Laughs] I think that there is a lot to be said for being alone with your thoughts for an extended period of time. Yesterday I spent all day by myself walking around thinking about stuff, and then I had drinks with a friend and we talked about the stuff that I was thinking about. But I didn’t tweet about it. I just don’t think that a bunch of strangers belong in that thought process, and I don’t want to apply the metrics of success to a budding idea.

How do you re-engage with the physical or natural world if your job or life circumstances require otherwise?

Jenny Odell. Photograph: Ryan Meyer

It’s a really big issue, and it makes the politics of land use and urban planning even more important than they already are. I think that’s what’s helpful about some of the art pieces that I mention. Anything that can help you practice shifting your attention.

For me, being outside makes that very easy, but in situations where I didn’t have that access, it ended up meaning just trying to shift my perspective a little bit to where things around me start to appear as odd as they really are. Because everything’s weird, I really believe that. Accessing that can be hard, but I think you can make a small decision to just notice things that you haven’t noticed before. You can always do that, no matter where you are, even if they’re not pretty.

You have a good line in the book about natural disasters – that the planet is making a more credible demand on our attention. That’s always been an issue with climate change; it’s the most dramatic thing, but people don’t want to look at it.

When you start paying attention to a population of a certain type of bird in your neighborhood, you will notice when it’s gone one year. And there’s a difference between that and reading about climate change. They’re both important, but I think if you begin to recognize things that live around you as agents in their own right – for me, they almost seem like people – then the effects on them will be felt in a different way, and it does feel real.

Helping Friendly Newsletter, 07.16.21

GM! ☕️
Here’s what you’ll find in today’s email:

How to do nothing

Sometimes we DO

1. How to do nothing

2. Lying flat

In rest-as-resistance news, some Chinese millennials are “lying flat” in protest. I’m particularly interested in the connection activists make between overwork and hyper-consumption. That hamster wheel is not helping us in the U.S. either, plus it’s hard on mother earth.

The “lying flat” movement calls on young workers and professionals, including the middle-class Chinese who are to be the engine of Xi Jinping’s domestic boom, to opt out of the struggle for workplace success, and to reject the promise of consumer fulfilment. For some, “lying flat” promises release from the crush of life and work in a fast-paced society and technology sector where competition is unrelenting.

—David Bandurski, Brookings

3. Sometimes we DO

Last weekend, the confederate statues at the center of Charlottesville’s Unite the Right rally were finally deposed. I am proud of my small part in this, and I savored the moment with some activist friends. Here’s a word from Zyahna Bryant, the woman who, at age 15, first petitioned Charlottesville City Council to remove the statues.

1 Retweet 5 Likes

4. Vacation stack

Does anyone else like to pull an unreasonably aggressive stack of vacation books? I almost never finish (or even start half of them TBH), but I always want good options. Here’s a peek at my stack for second-half-of-summer travel:

Thank you for reading

This newsletter is a labor of love. 💌 If you would like to show your support, you can forward to a friend, venmo me a coffee, or engage my services. If you’re seeing it for the first time, you can access the archive or subscribe here.

Treasure chest

How to do nothing

Have a great weekend! I’ll see you again soon.

How to do nothing

Social media is abuzz with ideas about how to maximize this unique time at home. ‘How to keep from getting bored! How to stay busy! How to be productive, accomplish and do do do!’ While we appreciate the ideas and inspiration, is it possible that what some of us really need at this time is to let the calm and quiet sink in?

We lit up when this poem by writer and trauma coach, Emma Zeck, appeared everywhere on Instagram last week. While we hope this solitude doesn’t last for long and anguish with those who are deeply struggling at this time, we found this meditation on the value of resting — of just being — deeply moving.

With this open time
You do not have to write the next great best selling novel
You do not have to get in the best shape of your life
You do not have to start that podcast

What you can do instead is observe this pause as an opportunity
The same systems we see crumbling in society
Are being called to crumble in each of us individually
The systems that taught us we are machines
That live to produce & we are disposable if we are not doing so
The systems that taught us monetary gain takes priority over humanity
The systems that create our insecurities then capitalize off of them

What if we became curious with this free time, & had no agenda other than to experience being?
What if you created art for the sake of creating?
What if you allowed yourself to rest & cry & laugh & play & get curious about whatever arises in you?

What if our true purpose is in this space?

As if Mother Earth is saying: We can no longer carry on this way. The time is now — I am reminding you who you are. Will you remember?

How To Do Nothing

If this month’s circumstances have you spending more time alone or in quiet, how can you embrace it? Here are a few ways to slow down. We’ve included some easy, fun zero-pressure do nothing ideas to get your mind off our current situation. The best part – you don’t have to do any of them.

Book Club + Chill | Take a break from all the Netflixing and online workouts and exercise your page-turning finger. If you need a little book club inspo, we love what’s happening over at Hello Sunshine. We featured Emma Roberts’ round-up of classics that are a must for any femme-lit-nerd-wannabes (like us). Read More

Yoga Nidra for the pause button | Karen Brody’s radical antidote to the buzzsaw of news, media and scroll-addiction is to integrate mind-altering yoga nidra naps into our lifestyles. You read that correctly. Naps. Turns out that naps are the most healing kind of do-nothings you can do right now. Read More

Breathe, repeat | Have you noticed you’ve been holding your breath lately? Take a moment to learn to breathe — the right way, with breathe-pro, Ashley Neese. Best part, you’re already a natural. read this + read more

Take it Out In The Kitchen | Feeling on the verge of a major rager meltdown right about now? Take Dana Velden’s advice to get in the kitchen and “beat the hell out something delicious.” No one gets hurt and it usually produces something seriously yummy. Read More

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I’m trying to use my windows laptop with an external monitor but I’m having some problems.

I want to close the lid of my laptop while continue working only on my external monitor.

So i set the settings of ‘choose what closing the lid does’ to ‘do nothing’ but it doesn’t work.

When I close the lid, the laptop goes dark anyway.

I tried changing power plans and everything but nothing works.

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Replies (5) 

Hello, my name is Gabriel, I hope to help you today.

The first thing we will do is go to the start button and in the search option we write “options”, which will take us to the “power options”. Another way to get to the power options through the battery charge icon on the desktop, we click on it and go to the option “more power options” that will send us to the same window.

Within the energy options there will be several to choose from on the left side of the screen, from all of them we select “choose the behavior of the lid closure” and click on “Change plan settings”, depending on the plan you are using. Then we click on “Change advanced power settings”.

This option will take us to the screen to define the power buttons and activate the password protection in which they show us two options: the first, what do you want the laptop to do when the lid is closed and it is without connection to the electrical network, that is, when it is working with the battery and the second, how it will behave when the lid is closed while connected to the electrical network.

We select the power plan that we want to customize through “change advanced power settings” and customize it. Once here we have to look for the section “power buttons and cover” and select “Action when closing the cover”> “With battery> Do nothing” as in “With alternating current> Do nothing”. We accept and that’s it. From this moment on, your laptop will stay on even if you close the lid.

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Hello, my name is Gabriel, I hope to help you today.

The first thing we will do is go to the start button and in the search option we write “options”, which will take us to the “power options”. Another way to get to the power options through the battery charge icon on the desktop, we click on it and go to the option “more power options” that will send us to the same window.

Within the energy options there will be several to choose from on the left side of the screen, from all of them we select “choose the behavior of the lid closure” and click on “Change plan settings”, depending on the plan you are using. Then we click on “Change advanced power settings”.

This option will take us to the screen to define the power buttons and activate the password protection in which they show us two options: the first, what do you want the laptop to do when the lid is closed and it is without connection to the electrical network, that is, when it is working with the battery and the second, how it will behave when the lid is closed while connected to the electrical network.

We select the power plan that we want to customize through “change advanced power settings” and customize it. Once here we have to look for the section “power buttons and cover” and select “Action when closing the cover”> “With battery> Do nothing” as in “With alternating current> Do nothing”. We accept and that’s it. From this moment on, your laptop will stay on even if you close the lid.

thank you for your feedback.

I went into the power options and tried to customize the ‘high performance’ power plan.

The problem is that when I go into the ‘advanced power settings’, between all the sections, there is not one about the lid closure. I checked them all one by one and I only have like ‘display>turn off after’ or like ‘sleep>sleep after etc..’

Advice on how to switch off―no thoughts of your to-do list―from a man who has devoted his career to the idyllic art of idling.

One morning, nearly 20 years ago, I was lying in bed. It was late. I was supposed to be working, but I seemed glued to the mattress. I hated myself for my laziness. And then, by chance, I picked up a collection of writings by Dr. Samuel Johnson, the 18th-century wit and the compiler of the first comprehensive English dictionary. In the book were excerpts from a weekly column he had written called The Idler, in which the great man celebrated idleness as an aspiration, writing in 1758, “Every man is, or hopes to be, an Idler.”

This was an epiphany for me. Idleness, it seemed, was not bad. It was noble. It was excessive busyness that caused all the problems!

So I got out of bed and started a magazine called The Idler, in order to remind people of the forgotten, simple pleasures of doing nothing. I even wrote books about it. And, yes, you could say that idleness became my life’s work. So, based on all those years of tough-going research, here are my top tips for people who find it difficult to just be.

1. Banish the guilt.

We are all told that we should be terribly busy, so we can’t laze around without that nagging feeling that we need to be getting stuff done. I rejected my guilt upon learning that Europeans in the Middle Ages felt no shame for lolling about. Their favorite philosopher, Aristotle, had praised the contemplative life, and the monks spent a lot of time just praying and chanting. Guilt for doing nothing is artificially imposed on us by a Calvinistic and Puritanical culture that wants us to work hard. When you understand that it hasn’t always been this way, it becomes easier to shake it off.

2. Choose the right role models.

Most of the great musicians and poets were idlers. So feed yourself a diet of John Lennon, Oscar Wilde, Walt Whitman, and the like. Carrying a slim volume of verse in your purse or pocket can be therapeutic―something from Keats, who wrote of “evenings steep’d in honied indolence,” or Wordsworth, of course. (What could be more idle than wandering lonely as a cloud?) It’s delightful to read a few lines while you’re on a bus or a train, then stare out the window and ponder their meaning.

3. Sketch a flower.

If you are new to idling and feel compelled to be purposefully occupied, sketching a flower at the kitchen table can be an excellent way to bring some divine contemplation into your life. The act of drawing makes you observe the bloom in a way you never have before. All anxieties fly away as you lose yourself in close study. And at the end of it you have a pretty little sketch.

4. Go bumbling.

Bumbling is a nice word that means “wandering around without purpose.” It was indulged in by the poets of 19th-century Paris. They called themselves flâneurs and were said to have taken tortoises around on leads, which gives you an idea of the tempo of their rambles. Children are good bumblers. Try making a deliberate effort to slow down your walking pace. You’ll find yourself coming alive, and you’ll enjoy simply soaking in the day.

5. Play the ukulele.

The ukulele is the sound of not working. My wife hates it for that very reason: The twang of those strings means that I am not doing something useful around the house. I keep my ukulele in the kitchen and play it at odd moments, like while I’m waiting for the kettle to boil.

6. Bring back Sundays.

Many religions still observe a Sabbath, whether it’s Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. And for a long time secular society embraced Sundays as a day of rest, too. But now Sundays are as busy and stress-filled as any other day. Having a day of rest was a very practical idea: We were excused from all labor and devoted ourselves to pleasure and family. Take that ancient wisdom to heart and declare at least one day of the week as a do-nothing day. Don’t clean the house or do the laundry; don’t get in the car. Stay home and eat chocolate and drink wine. Be kind to yourself.

7. Lie in a field.

Doing nothing is profoundly healing―to yourself and to the planet. It is precisely our restless activity that has caused the environmental crisis. So do some good by taking a break from “doing” and go and lie on your back in a field. Listen to the birds and smell the grass.

8. Gaze at the clouds.

Don’t have a field nearby? Doing nothing can easily be dignified by calling it “cloud spotting.” It gives a purpose to your dawdling. Go outside and look up at the ever-changing skies and spot the cirrus and the cumulonimbus.

9. Take a nap.

To indulge in a siesta after lunch is the most wonderful luxury: It softens tempers and guards against grumpiness. Yet our culture has decided that naps are for wimps. A nap is acceptable only if it is called a “power nap”―a short doze that is supposed to return you to the office with more energy to kick some ass. But you should nap, not for the profit of a corporation but for your own health. Research has shown that a daily snooze can reduce the risk of heart attack. And just knowing you’re going to sleep after lunch seems to make the morning less stressful. If curling up in your office isn’t an option, go somewhere quiet, like a church or a park bench, and close your eyes for even just five minutes.

10. Pretend to meditate.

For us westerners, meditation is an accepted way of doing nothing. Tell everyone you’re going to meditate, then go into your bedroom, shut the door, and stare out the window or read or lie down for half an hour. You have excused yourself from household tasks and can indulge in contemplation, reflection, and that underrated pleasure, thinking, without fear of disapproval.

Here is an example of my code. I need the last if to do nothing, else do something.

How to do nothing

11 Answers 11

You’ve already done it. Congratulations.

Of course the far less confusing design is to just NOT the condition and then have an if with no else .

Realize that you can simply invert the conditional:

How to do nothing

Simply invert the if condition and declare only the true part:

Anyway, you are always able to declare an empty body when needed: < >.
For instance:

There is no point of putting a condition for doing nothing. You should do it like this.

You can invert if , try this:

How to do nothing

if you really want it to do nothing

Let’s use the ‘!’ operator like:

or with an extra variable:

In both cases if daPilot.Gas is greater than zero (0) nothing will happen!

How to do nothing

I like the following code – it uses zero or one line but need extend to tree lines

Also use < >in two lines or zero line in if statement:

How to do nothing

Inside the if statement write some code that does nothing:

if (daPilot.Gas > 0) var S = true;

Not the answer you’re looking for? Browse other questions tagged c# if-statement or ask your own question.

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Getting things done is like a drug to so many of us: we’re addicted to the feeling of ticking items off a to-do list.

Of course, we strive to achieve a particular set of tasks each day, small things like cleaning the bathroom or larger tasks that get us closer to a massive goal. But this habit can become problematic if we feel tethered to a to-do list or consider every moment of the day an opportunity to do more. It wasn’t always this way. “Years ago, people had one role and one task at a time that they’d do before moving onto the next,” explains psychologist Marny Lishman. But over time, we’ve grown to expect a lot from ourselves. “Now, we multitask,” says Lishman. “We’re getting busier, and the more we do the more we get used to doing. We are all doing more.”

The productivity myth

In the evolution from single-tasking to multitasking, we’ve somehow signed on to a new belief about productivity that is not only problematic but can also encourage addictive behavior. “You feel good for being productive: it’s a dopamine release just like with any other addiction,” says Lishman. This dopamine rush increases your heart rate and blood pressure, and stimulates the nervous system; research shows that a release of dopamine also increases motivation to take on more. And so the cycle of productivity addiction continues. “While this productivity addiction might be good for a while, it’s not good for you in the long run,” says Lishman of the pressure this cycle may place on the body and mind. It might seem counterintuitive, but a cycle of constant action may end up encouraging a less productive cycle over time. “If you’re doing too much of anything, it means you’re not balancing out the rest of your life, and you end up getting frazzled,” says Lishman. “If you make some spare time, rest more and have some social time, you end up being more productive. You’re giving your brain and body a chance to restore and recharge.” Now it’s time to master the art of doing nothing.

How to do nothing

Doing nothing is a foreign concept to most of us. At best, it feels silly to relax when there’s a mile-long list waiting for your attention; at worst, you might beat yourself up about being lazy and wasting time. But it’s the key to recovering from that productivity addiction that’s spinning you around in circles. Here’s how you can learn to do nothing: 1. Become aware of your frenetic productivity. The first step to shift any habit is to become aware of it. “If you’re on the go all the time, you need to notice that and do something about it,” Lishman suggests. “It might be that you notice you’re feeling depleted, which means it’s a good idea to stop and be less productive for a while.” Watch your frantic to-do list ticking habits, and commit to stepping back for a short time. [Editor’s Note: maybe a good time for the Change pack, too.] 2. Schedule it in. Just like you put other tasks on the calendar, doing nothing can be scheduled in too. Lishman says, “Prioritize some time in your day to stop and try to see it as being as important as being productive. Schedule your work time and some space for doing nothing in your diary.” 3. Figure out what ‘doing nothing’ means. The idea of relaxing is different for everybody. “It can mean just sitting to stare out at nothing, and just being in the moment,” says Lishman. “Or it can mean doing something that’s just for you, something with no outcome to it, that you’re not doing for a specified reason. That could be cooking, gardening, playing with your kids or going for a walk; it’s not productive, so it switches on the relaxation response in your nervous system.” 4. Try meditating. If doing nothing doesn’t sound like your thing, you can add something else into the mix, like meditating or listening to music. “When you have a busy mind, sitting down and doing nothing is quite hard,” says Lishman. “Meditation can help, and the more you do it, the more you’ll want to do it.” 5. Sit with the discomfort of chilling out. Trying anything new feels uncomfortable for a while, and it’s no different when doing nothing isn’t yet a habit. “Sit in the discomfort of doing nothing, and resist the urge to do more,” Lishman says. “You’ll find it’s actually quite nice.” Doing nothing may sound like an easy way out, but it could be a ticket to recovering from a harmful productivity addiction.

OK listen, because this is important.

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Welcome to the world of work. The place where your potential will be rewarded with promotions and pay-rises. Wrong. All those boring tasks you yawned your way through during your boring unpaid internship are back. Work sucks. Fact! Here are 22 survival tips your career advisor never told you about.

1. Always carry a notebook

This makes you look busy even though you haven’t done anything all day. The office is an evil realm. The notebook is your shield.

2. Drink from a takeaway coffee cup at all times

This gives the impression that you’re much too busy to make your own hot drink. Ensure the extra shot box is ticked. Colleagues will think you’re so busy you need that extra smack of caffeine.

3. Leave half eaten Chinese food boxes around your desk

Your workspace may smell of black bean and chow mein but it will look like you’ve worked all through the night (even though you haven’t even worked through the day.)

4. Send a late night email

The more trivial the better. This shows that you’re really ‘drilling down into the granular’ of your job. Ensure your boss is copied into this email, as this shows that work is always on your mind. Your boss is the master of this technique.

5. Duplicate jackets

Buy two identical jackets and leave one hanging over your office chair. This is a worthwhile expense and gives the impression that you always work late (even though you always sneak out early.)

6. Never turn your computer off – This looks like you’re always working

Screw energy bills. You’re not paying.

7. Have a baby (sort of)

Find a random baby on the Internet and save it as your desktop wallpaper. Babies are the ultimate skiving tool. With a baby you can be late – all the time. You can have days off – all the time. And you are entitled to flexible working hours! A baby can also double as your shield.

8. Use the loo during work hours

Why poo at home when you can get paid to do it at work. Never do it during your lunch. If done strategically, one can amass a whole hour per day of sitting on the toilet. Send a trivial email from the toilet.

9. Pretend to photocopy

There’s one thing in the office that does even less work than you: the photocopier. They never work. Stand by a photocopier as if you’re waiting for a print job to eventually be spat out. Press some random buttons for effect.

Like Edward Snowden in Russia, the authorities can’t touch you when you’re stood next to a photocopier.

10. Always accessorise with a pen behind your ear

No one knows why this makes you look busy, but it does. Builders invented this technique years ago.

11. Check your phone during meetings

In the real world this would just be plain rude, but in the world of work it’s accepted as it looks like you’re multitasking (when actually you’re live tweeting how boring the meeting is.)

12. Sigh a lot

Sighing is a natural physiological reaction to stress. Looking stressed seems like you’re working hard when in fact you’re sighing because the sidebar of shame won’t load.

13. Extend your lunch for as long as physically possible

Take your lunch break the second your boss leaves their desk. Eat your lunch and surf the web. Fiddle with your fantasy football team. Sleep. Whatever. When your boss returns from their lunch break tell them you had some ‘stuff to do’ and you’re taking a late lunch. One can easily obtain a two hour lunch break everyday.

14. Never stop telling people how busy you are

“Busy!” is your default reply to anyone who asks how you’re getting on even though you’ve done nothing all day.

15. Be hungover at work

Being hungover at work means drinking Coke and eating sausage McMuffins and doing zero work all day. It’s better to be hungover at work than feeling sick at home. Home is your time! If anyone asks why you’re hungover just reply with “I’ve been so busy lately I had to let off some steam.”

16. Public transport delays are amazing

Check the Tube status first thing in the morning. If there’s a reported delay go back to bed for an hour. When you finally turn up for work simply tell your boss that whichever tube line that was delayed was yours and that’s why you’re late.

17. Turn your computer off and on repeatedly

Done regularly throughout the day one can acquire many minutes of blissful inactivity. Blame your computer’s CPU for the repeated restarts. Your boss won’t know what this is and neither will you, but it works.

18. Watch Excel tutorials on YouTube

From afar it looks like you’re creating a clever spreadsheet, whereas in reality you’re daydreaming about your gap year.