A similar thing happens when you have clearly defined tasks that lack purpose.
Go back to work and think about your average day. How often are you not clear what you’re doing? How often is the goal of the next 30 minutes completely undefined? Yes, you’ve suffered through meetings where there was no clear agenda and you felt like you were wasting your time, but that’s still a known quantity — I’m currently in the poorly run meeting scenario. Been there, done that.
What happens when there is no meeting, no burning task, no one in your office? You wander, you surf the web, you stare at that calendar on the wall and think, “Why do we have leap years again? I forget.” And then you feel bad. I should be working. I should be doing something. They’re not paying me to reverse engineer leap years. I have things to do.