How to Waste Your Wasted Time

By September 23, 2016Health & Wellness
waste-time

Friday evening. No more reports, emails or phone calls to take. Two wonderful days where you can stay in your PJs all weekend if you want or wear nothing at all if that’s your thing. Who cares? It’s your time off. You’ll do what you want.

Or maybe you’re a solo entrepreneur and you just laughed at me with the idea of a weekend. In fact, you work every day, all day and you stopped noticing the difference between Sunday and Wednesday a long time ago.

In any case, I’m going to make a case for resting.

More than that, this article is a case for wasting time.

Time off = Not Working?

For this article, time off includes the time after work, weekends, holidays, long weekends, vacations, etc. As long as it’s not time spent at work, we’ll call it time off.

For most people, time off is when you do absolutely nothing. It’s the time when you disconnect your brain, watch Netflix, thumb your way through Instagram, Reddit or whatever your poison is. Your brain is tired and it needs to rest.

But you can do better than that.

Our goal at Tiggley is helping you reach your goals. And for that to happen, you’ll need every day on your calendar to be amazing. That means not being part of the ‘I hate Mondays’ crowd. From now on, you like all days. If you can use your time off work to renew your mind, you’re on the right track.

The problem is most people waste all their time. Even their wasted time.

Here’s how The Science of Us puts it:

“Many people feel that the time they spend at work is essentially wasted — they are alienated from it, and the psychic energy invested in the job does nothing to strengthen their self. For quite a few people free time is also wasted. Leisure provides a relaxing respite from work, but it generally consists of passively absorbing information, without using any skills or exploring new opportunities for action. As a result life passes in a sequence of boring and anxious experiences over which a person has little control.”

In essence, when you’re at work you use your creative energy to accomplish tasks that do nothing for you —other than give you a paycheck. And when you do have time off, you’re out of creative energy and you spend your time in passive activities, like watching Netflix or just doing nothing.

Do you see the picture? The two places you spend the most time at do nothing to renew your mind and energy. One drains you and the other keeps you drained.

But here’s the thing. Creative energy is recharged by doing creative things you like to do.

What is Wasting Time?

Laura Vanderkam defines wasting time as doing something “you don’t enjoy, and it’s not done in the cause of advancing you toward some larger goal.” It doesn’t mean you have to be productive every moment of your day. That’s not the goal. The goal is to help your mind be the most productive it can be, even when you’re wasting time.

We’re also not saying you should work on the weekends if you don’t want to. But you should take a good look at how you spend your time off and what hobbies you’ve left behind. If all you want to do when you have time off is veg out on the couch, by all means do it, but aren’t you missing out on something?

What do you like doing? Do you like knitting, drawing or playing video games? Do anything that requires mental energy. These are great ways to spend your weekend.

Vanderkam says:

“Other kinds of work–be it exercise, a creative hobby, hands-on parenting, or volunteering–will do more to preserve your zest for Monday’s challenges than complete vegetation,” she has written before recommending that, if you really want to feel jazzed up after a break, you should proactively schedule challenging or engaging activities rather than just planning to chill and take things the days as they come.

If you help your mind become stronger when you’re wasting time, you’re not wasting time. Click To Tweet

Meet Don. He’s a web designer, musician, photographer, carpenter, board-game enthusiast, sound engineer and ice cream connoisseur.

Don is a web designer. He had a regular 9 to 5 job, but everyday after work, he met with his friend Matt and played some music together. They started recording some of their songs, and decided to burn some CDs of their music and host a concert at Matt’s house.

Ninety friends showed up to the 35-minute concert. They served chili dogs and lemonade. 

The other day I went to Don’s house, and I noticed he had an old looking camera. I asked him what it was, and he told me he built a 1920’s style camera. He saw some tutorials on Youtube and thought it was something fun he could do. The camera works. He has to process the photos in a darkroom, so he bought the red lights and set them up in one of his rooms. To develop the photos, at first, he used coffee and vitamin C, but he uses better equipment now.

I could go on and on about how Don spends his free time. Like his closet full of board games you’ve never heard of. I’ve played some of them with him, and they’re all fun. Or about the time he traveled with a local band for two years working their sound board.

Here’s the best part of this story:

Two weeks ago they got two emails. One from Univision and another from Fusion.net. They wanted to interview Don and Matt because their music was so good. So that happened. Because of those interviews, now they are getting paid to play in three music festivals this fall. And people have started buying Don’s 1920’s photographs.

Don spent his free time doing things he enjoyed and as a result people have noticed his talent. 

When you spend your time doing things you love doing, nothing is wasted. Click To Tweet

Are you going unnoticed? Maybe you need to do more things you like doing.

How not to waste your time

Don’s story may sound like he doesn’t have a job and all he does is find stuff online to do. How does he pay his bills? Does he ever hang out with his friends or watch TV? What is an ice-cream connoisseur? 

I eat with him every two weeks or so, and he’s always telling me something crazy he learned or about some Netflix show he’s watching with his girlfriend. He’s just fun to be around. He got me into Stranger Things and Game of Thrones and he finished the latest season of House of Cards before me and he’s about to finish Narcos.

I know watching Netflix shows are not accomplishments. I’m just making the case that you can have a job, watch all your favorite shows and still find the time to rest and relax productively. And in that effort, you never know who’s gonna listen to your music or see your videos or read your blog.

Your time is valuable. You’ll be amazed at how far you can go if you give yourself the time, rest and mental health to reach your goals.

You Need Productive Rest to Be Whatever You Want to Be

So that’s my case for resting and wasting time. I’m not against working hard. You should put in all the extra hours you need if that’s what you have to do, either for work or for your personal projects.

But learn to rest and waste time.

I know how it sounds. Asking you to rest may sound like I’m asking you to be lazy and not ambitious.

And to that objection, here’s the final thought.

Shimi Kang, a Harvard-trained child and adult psychiatrist says that:

“Breaks are moments of breakthroughs. Certain biological processes occur exclusively during moments of relaxed wakefulness, when the brain’s default-mode network becomes activated. A time of relaxed wakefulness is when we integrate what we’ve felt or heard. It’s when we make sense of our past and apply it to our future, so our sense of ethics, our sense of self — even empathy — are all shown to improve.”

Kang deals with patients who say they don’t have time to build rest into their lives. She tells them:

“You’re too busy for optimal health. You’re too busy to perform optimally. Too busy to be brilliant, to be the best athlete, to be the best CEO, writer, homemaker — whatever it is you’re trying to achieve. Because you need rest to do all of those things.”

Breaks are moments of breakthroughs. So find a way to make the most of them.

Summary

  • Relaxing is not the same as doing nothing.
  • Doing nothing is a passive activity. Passive activities do not recharge your energy. To the contrary, they keep it down.
  • Though doing nothing is fine, it shouldn’t be your go-to activity when you have time off.
  • If you really want to refresh your mind, you need to engage it. Anything that makes you think works.

Make the Most of Your Wasted Time

Do you need help to waste time more effectively? Tiggley can help! I know it sounds like a strange proposal, but it’s true. We have coaches who can help you figure out what triggers your unproductive time-wasting, and turn it into time off that recharges your mind. Your time is valuable, and we can help. Contact us now to setup an appointment with a coach.