The International Institute of Not Doing Much

The best sort of institute!

I don’t really know what to say about this terrific site.

It’s got comedy that makes fun of both the work ethic and the slacker ethic (as any good slacker would do!). It’s got great commentary on corporations and capitalism and overall the writing is easy to understand, lucid and just a bunch of fun.

For example they have “Slowcrates” which is an obvious parody of Socrates as well as fake letters to them from disgruntled people with their institute as well as people who love their products (which includes hot tubs, apparently) and people who hate what they stand for.

I’ve reached out Christopher Richards Ink (the guy behind this as far as I can tell) to see if I can republish some of his writings or some of the writings of the IINDM but so far no word back.

This is also a satire on the slow movement which has various facets to it.

Here’s a few noteworthy quotes:

From Minimal Effort:

You see, minimal effort is a scientific principle. We’re not a bunch of half-baked, hammock-swinging crackpots. We have history and physics on our side. Thales of Miletus (624 BC-546 BC) was an early minimal effortist. And Albert Einstein (also a member of the Institute of Not Doing Much) did some serious musing on the idea of conservation of energy. But you don’t need to bother with all that complicated mathematics.

You’ve probably mastered minimal effort. If you learned to drive a stick shift you’ll know what we mean. At first, you grind the gears. The car lurches erratically. But in time, you get the hang of it. No longer do you grip the steering wheel with white knuckles. You’ve achieved minimal effort.

Minimal effort is a worthy aspiration. Lie down and think about it.

From How to Get out of Bed:

find lying in bed is the most efficient place for some early-morning thinking. There is evidence to back this up. Scientists tell us that we achieve beneficial mental states between sleep and wakefulness. Sleeping longer can even make you more intelligent.

In William Dement’s book, The Promise of Sleep, he cites a study on students at Harvard. They were encouraged to sleep an extra hour-and-a-half. At first, they objected because of their busy course schedules. But they went along with the program. The result: grades went up. The bad news is that sleep debt lowers IQ points. So staying in bed may lead to a heightened state of functionality and wellbeing. However, the world makes its demands on us.

We have to go to work. We resort to the alarm clock. I know that using such a word is offensive, but I don’t know an appropriate euphemism. As everyone knows, alarm clocks were invented in the depths of Hell. We humans should be gently born into each new day; not confronted with shock, terror, loathing, and fear.

If you have an alarm clock, you can’t help but look at the beastly contraption. You make rules for yourself. You’ll stay in bed for just five more minutes. Then, in the spirit of heroic self-discipline, you tell yourself you’ll get up in just one more minute’s time. You count the seconds backwards, five, four, three, two, one. Now, it’s when you get into fractions that it becomes tricky. You know you have the self-discipline to get up very soon, but you might as well stay in bed just a fraction longer, at least until you reach the limit of your ability to do mental division.

The Seriously Slow section is one of the few…well…serious, parts of the site and is worth checking out for collecting some real pieces that Ink himself wrote.

The piece called Time is especially good, here’s a highlight:

Constant distraction keeps us from ourselves. We hurtle though life concerning ourselves with the minutia and practicalities of our immediate situations; fantasizing about the future or imagining the past. Our productive-entertainment culture fosters this behavior, so slowing down is uncharted territory—which is what this website is about, albeit tongue in cheek. We fear what will happen with free time. It may be true that boredom is its own antidote, because boredom, like failure, is a necessary transitional and personal developmental state.

When speed becomes a habit—as it is in the business world—mistakes mount. Efficiency and effectiveness get conflated. Speed is valuable and necessary in some contexts.But to automatically assume faster is better is a mistake. Shakespeare said, “marry in haste, repent at leisure.” Decision-making in complex or unfamiliar situations need reflection and that means going slower. The impulse-driven can only react. Not all situations call for efficiency.

We deplore waiting as a waste of time. We wait for trains, in doctors’ offices, at airports. We flee from unstructured time. We try to fill every fatiguing moment with telephone conversations, digital entertainment, or reading. But these unstructured opportunities can be enjoyable by cultivating the art of waiting, noticing, and being present: a time to get to know ourselves.

And just in case you were wondering, yes you can buy some cool lazy-gifts from Zazzle!

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