This column won't take long to read because it's about nothing. This is a practice called “Niksen” by our friends in the Netherlands. I am not the smartest wafer in the windmill cookie carton, but even I can tell when nothing could actually be something. 


I recently read about this concept in an article from the BBC. “Niksen – a Dutch wellness trend that means 'doing nothing' – has caught the attention of the world as a way to manage stress or recover from burnout. Niksen is about carving out time to just be, letting your mind wander wherever it wants to go.” 


We all encounter stress in our daily lives, which is normal. “It's not necessarily bad to be for a moment in a state of stress, where you're really on and focused. The problem is when this is getting out of hand. Niksen can help with that. When you do nothing, you connect to your default mode.”


Doing nothing has some real benefits. “Paradoxically, Niksen can also make us more productive, simply because breaks allow our brains to rest and come back with better focus and sustained attention. This is probably why, while the Dutch don't work long hours, they tend to be very efficient at work.” (


To learn more about this concept, I went straight to the leading magazine of the Netherlands – The Dutch Review. “Niksen means doing nothing or, more specifically, performing an action without a clear purpose or a deadline. Doing something just for the sake of doing something. By engaging in Niksen, the Dutch reach a state of calmness and tranquillity.” 


Niksen applies to work-life balance. “The Dutch tend to be more like the Americans when it comes to these things. So, taking some time in the midst of your daily struggles to just sit back and relax helps you increase your creativity and productivity. Niksen allows you to think — or not — about anything you want. The mind is simply free to wander. In the end, then, Niksen seems to be the Dutch secret to finding a balance between getting things done (on time!) and appreciating the small things in life.” (


Considering all this, summertime would seem to be perfect for some  Niksen experimentation. Doing nothing on a lazy summer day sounds pretty enjoyable. 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and