5 moments when you should do absolutely nothing


If you’re trying to move your career forward or find a new job, there is always a list of things you can do more of. Network more. Volunteer more. Speak up more. But there are moments when you should really slow down and do nothing.

Over on 99u, serial entrepreneur James Altucher outlines the moments when he stops working. Instead of pushing through anxiety, anger, and other challenges, he realizes that these are often signs he should stop. Here is one example that stood out to us.

Do nothing when you’re tired.  I was trying to figure out something on the computer the other day. It was both very technical and related to money. First it was 1 p.m. Then it was 6 p.m. Then, against all my rules for a “daily practice,” it was midnight. And I was no closer to figuring it out. I was tired. My eyes were blurry. I was taking ten-second naps on my computer. A week later I still haven’t figured out what I needed to figure out. But right then, because I had invested this time into my “learning” and I was tired, I wanted to keep going. My wife Claudia peeled me off the keyboard and marched me upstairs. Sleep hygiene is the best way to improve productivity in your life. Not beating your head against a computer.

Read the rest of his advice on 99u.

We each have our own limits, or moments when it’s clear we should stop working (personally, I know I shouldn’t do anything when I’m hungry. Or, more accurately, hangry). What are yours? Share them in the comments.

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Photo Credit: Andrei Shumskiy, Shutterstock

About Author

Former Editor and Creator of Idealist Careers, a publication of Idealist.org. Follow me on Twitter @ajlovesya.


  1. Great post Allison! Too often we push through when really what we need is to stop, breathe and restore. Such a good reminder especially at this time of year.

  2. Thank you as well! There’s often too much on what MORE should be done, when actually a lot less, or a total full-stop could -sometimes, but more often than we think- solve all the problems.
    Although, just came to my mind – I also think, creative destruction is also a way of solving problems from time to time. Like throwing out things when we dont need them any more, or which dont help, or keep us back!

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