Articles, Blog

Waste a little time: Unproductive time is part of life

February 14, 2020

In my last video, you can see me live in the
middle of trying to convince myself not to take a break. I was talking about escapism, feeling like
I was drawn to waste my time, and I had to resist it, because if I dived into escapism,
wasting time, playing a game, and not devoting all my time to useful work, somehow I felt
like I was falling into a hole, and that there’s no way it would make my life better. I simply had to resist the urge to fall into
the hole, and just keep working. Well, I can now say, one video later, that
I was wrong. You can see me trying to make this argument
that I just have to avoid it at all costs, but finally, I just felt this need for a break
was building up and building up, and for about three days in a row, I would start to go into
it in the afternoon, and then I’d kind of pull myself back, and I went back again the
next day, and just this desire to just completely forget about anything useful and just waste
my time for a while. Now, because I’ve wasted so much time in my
life, and part of the motivation for even starting this project is that I want to live
a more meaningful life, I don’t want to be wasting my time, so I was really afraid to
let any time-wasting happen, feeling that somehow it would lead to this slippery slope
into complete time-wasting, indolence, apathy, this kind of dull stupor of doing nothing. But after this third day of going in and then
pulling myself back, I finally said OK, there’s no point in me trying to just keep pushing
myself against this wall. It is time for me to take a real break, and
let myself just stop being productive. And it was only after I did this that I realized
how much for weeks I had been in this purely productive mode, where everything that I was
doing had to be somehow productive. And I’ve never had that level of dedication
and focus before, and I guess I was starting to think that this is the new normal, that
I could just be diving into this just like an obsession, like having a project to work
on and then putting all your energy into it: it is a wonderful feeling, so I was just going
with that. And this feeling of efficiency, this feeling
of celebrating that I was being so productive and useful with my time: it started to get
to the point where even my downtime became productive time. So OK, I need to take a break. I can’t be doing the same thing forever. So in my downtime I can be doing something
else that’s useful. So hey, the weekend: I can use that time to
clean my apartment, maybe cook some food. And, you know, my meal times became my break
times, because then I would stop working for a while, cook, eat, clean up, and this would
be my break time. But then all other time that was not needed
for some kind of routine chores, or sleeping, exercising, then it was all in work, all in
the project. Now, this has some wonderful aspects to it. It is so fun and engaging to be involved all
the way in on a project. Instead of this kind of punching the clock,
you know, I’ll work the minimum number hours I have to and then get to my free time: that’s
a sad way to have a work life, where we’re just counting down the time till it’s done. But I was taking it too far, to the point
where I just didn’t have any non-productive time anymore. I started to become a productivity machine. And when I finally took that break, it really
hit me how much I’d gone into this mindset without even realizing it. I was letting that kind of hyper-productive,
focused, driven mindset just completely take over my life, and just saying, well, this
is naturally a good thing. It’s good to be driven to this extreme degree. You know, what’s wrong with that? And so I wasn’t holding myself back, until
finally I just had that feeling of- the demand was welling up inside me: you need to take
a break. Just stop thinking about this project. Stop working. Stop being productive. There’s something so powerful about simply
not needing to be productive at all times. Simply being OK with- you could say wasting
time, and yet there’s no time that’s 100% wasted, because our downtime- this kind of
downtime is part of life. It’s part of a complete life, and it’s a part
that I have been neglecting for a while. Because in my younger days I was too far into
that mode, all about wasting time, and not enough about actually doing useful work. So I went overboard into useful work, and
now I’m starting to appreciate again this value of downtime. So the trick is, how can we enjoy this and
make it part of a complete life instead of being drawn to one extreme or the other, to
being hyper-productive or just completely apathetic and time-wasting? So now going into this next stage of working
out this balance. So I’d be curious to hear from you: what is
this like for you, this balance between being productive and allowing yourself to have downtime? Are you more like I was for most of my life
and just celebrating downtime whenever possible? Or are you like I’ve been in the past several
weeks, and been hyper-productive, maybe even to the point where it becomes counterproductive? I’d like to hear how it’s going for you.

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