Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving (Paperback)
“A welcome antidote to our toxic hustle culture of burnout.”—Arianna Huffington
“This book is so important and could truly save lives.”—Elizabeth Gilbert
“A clarion call to work smarter [and] accomplish more by doing less.”—Adam Grant
We work feverishly to make ourselves happy. So why are we so miserable?
Despite our constant search for new ways to optimize our bodies and minds for peak performance, human beings are working more instead of less, living harder not smarter, and becoming more lonely and anxious. We strive for the absolute best in every aspect of our lives, ignoring what we do well naturally and reaching for a bar that keeps rising higher and higher. Why do we measure our time in terms of efficiency instead of meaning? Why can’t we just take a break?
In Do Nothing, award-winning journalist Celeste Headlee illuminates a new path ahead, seeking to institute a global shift in our thinking so we can stop sabotaging our well-being, put work aside, and start living instead of doing. As it turns out, we’re searching for external solutions to an internal problem. We won’t find what we’re searching for in punishing diets, productivity apps, or the latest self-improvement schemes. Yet all is not lost—we just need to learn how to take time for ourselves, without agenda or profit, and redefine what is truly worthwhile.
Pulling together threads from history, neuroscience, social science, and even paleontology, Headlee examines long-held assumptions about time use, idleness, hard work, and even our ultimate goals. Her research reveals that the habits we cling to are doing us harm; they developed recently in human history, which means they are habits that can, and must, be broken. It’s time to reverse the trend that’s making us all sadder, sicker, and less productive, and return to a way of life that allows us to thrive.
About the Author
Celeste Headlee is an award-winning journalist and professional speaker, and is the bestselling author of We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter. She is cohost of the new weekly series Retro Report on PBS and season three of the Scene on Radio podcast—MEN. Celeste serves as an advisory board member for Procon and the Listen First Project. In her twenty-year career in public radio, Celeste has been the executive producer of On Second Thought at Georgia Public Radio and has anchored programs including, Tell Me More, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She also cohosted of the national morning news show The Takeaway for PRI and WNYC, anchored World Channel’s presidential coverage in 2012, and received the 2019 Media Changemaker Award. Celeste lives in Washington, DC.
“Through deep research and evocative storytelling, Celeste Headlee shows us how to break free from constant pressure and live the life we truly want.”—Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global
“Despite working harder than ever, people have never been more depressed, anxious, and unhappy. Without a doubt, our modern way of life is not working. In fact, it’s killing us. But what is to be done? With intelligence and compassion, Headlee presents realistic solutions for how we can reclaim our health and our humanity from a technological revolution that seems hell-bent on destroying both. I’m so grateful to have read this book. It delivers on its promise of a better life.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic and Eat Pray Love
“Celeste Headlee makes a powerful case that productivity is not an inherent virtue—if you’re not careful, it can become a vice. If you've ever felt compelled to work harder, this book is a clarion call to work smarter instead. Sometimes you accomplish more by doing less.”—Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take, and host of the chart-topping TED podcast WorkLife
“At a time when so many people are feeling overworked, overwhelmed and addicted to busyness, work, and ever-present technology, Celeste Headlee offers a pathway out. Drawing on extensive research and her own experience, Do Nothing is a powerful reminder that taking the time to stop, connect with others, and forge real bonds is vital for building community, fostering empathy, and ultimately leads to joy.”—Brigid Schulte, author of the New York Times bestselling Overwhelmed, and director of The Better Life Lab at New America
“I needed this book. And chances are you need it, too. Celeste Headlee does something amazing in Do Nothing. She battles this hectic, stressful time and highlights the things that makes our lives better. Connection. Experience. Self-care. And, above all, she reminds us to get busy living.”—Jared Yates Sexton, author of The Man They Wanted Me to Be
“In this thought-provoking, well-researched book, Celeste invites readers to push back against the I’m-too-busy narrative and discover what it means to be truly successful.”—Laura Vanderkam, author of Off the Clock and I Know How She Does It
“This book is honest, heartbreaking, and hopeful. It's that kind of gem that you read and know you need to hear, know you need to embrace, even if it's challenging. Incredibly well-researched and yet never preachy or dull, this book will help us all reclaim a bit of our humanness if we allow it.”—Nataly Kogan, author of Happier Now
“[Do Nothing’s] conversational tone draws readers in, and it will appeal to those looking beyond self-help to something more meaningful.”—Booklist
“This is neither a self-help book nor a how-to for people looking for a guide for different working habits. Rather, Headlee systematically deconstructs the toxicity of hustle culture with historical and scientific research to help readers question their habits and impulses surrounding overwork.”—Shelf Awareness