Claire Black: When you fill up your time all the time, it’s actually possible to get very little done

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‘CAN’T you just sit down?”

The tone wasn’t so much hectoring as filled with pity, as though I might actually have some physical impediment preventing me from placing my backside on the sofa and leaving it there for more than two minutes. Up and down. Up and down. Undeniable. Irrefutable. I’d been up and down like a yo-yo.

I don’t think that I was always like this, but these days I find it increasingly hard to do nothing. I think it’s what comes of doing too much for too long. It’s as though the skill of doing very little just withers away, so infrequently is it exercised. I don’t even think about doing nothing very often. I don’t have the time. I’m too busy doing things.

But, now that it’s been pointed out, I’ve decided to take action: I’m going to devote myself to being lazy. Okay, let’s not crawl slowly before we can dash, I’m going to try to be a bit lazier.

If it’s good enough for Reg Dean, it’s good enough for me. When asked for the secret of his longevity – he celebrated his 110th birthday last week – Dean said: “Being lazy”. Good man. That’s the spirit. I’ll have a leaf out of his 110-year-old book.

I do realise this flies in the face of all that health advice about the benefits of active lifestyles.

And it’s not that I’m advocating hitting the sofa with only the remote control and a family bag of Revels for company, stimulation and intellectual fulfilment.

I’m talking about the gentlest of pottering. Or maybe a little kick through the autumn leaves. Or some staring into space. But definitely no goal, no aim, no predetermined outcome.

I reckon Aristotle was right, you see, about the old vita contemplativa – a life that includes enough time to think about the essentials. I’m talking about carving out a bit of nothingness so that there’s room for something more interesting to emerge, because here’s the thing: when you fill up your time 
all the time, it’s actually possible to get very little done. It’s just that you’re too busy to really notice. Shirley Conran got it right in Superwoman: “I make no secret of the fact that I would rather lie on a sofa than sweep beneath it. But you have to be efficient if you’re going to be lazy.”

She’s right. Totally right. So I’ve made up my mind and I’m going to do absolutely nothing about it.

SO, DID you know that if you’re a woman you are as of now effectively working for free until the end of the year? I know, weird right? Where’s that clause in your employment contract? We’ve had Equal Pay legislation for 42 years and, yes, girls leave school with better grades than boys and more of them go to university. The fact is, though, that the pay gap between men and women persists. It is 14.9 per cent across the country and a shamingly enormous 55 per cent in financial services. It’s a scandal really.

LOOKING on the bright side though, sales of Ugg boots are tanking. So at least the little money that we are earning isn’t being spent on those sheepskin atrocities. Sales are down by a third. Death knell? I seriously hope so. The thought of never again hearing the scuffing of a sodden suede boot that’s squishy at the ankle and about as aesthetically pleasing as a punch in the eye fills me with unadulterated joy. «