Lately I’ve been finding myself with less free time. Counterintuitively, I’ve been finding respite, and even intervals of increased clarity and focus in wasting time or engaging in activities that seem like a waste of time.
It isn’t nearly as decadent as it sounds. It’s more like a well-seasoned vegetable.
I’ve started allowing calendar software to manage large chunks of my time. This fairly stringent codification of time leads to greater awareness of how exactly my time is spent. Increased awareness coupled with the fact that I’m getting older makes me increasingly aware that my time is extremely limited and all of my options are trade-offs.
And yet, somehow, with these sudden constraints and this painful awareness, wasting time is still a thing that I do. And if I didn’t do it, I’d probably hate my life. I’d be less happy and less productive.
Done right, time-wasting is play. Play is meandering and wonderful. Play gives birth to new ideas.
Go through the motions. The motions get results, they keep muscles strong and they keep neurons firing, strengthening connections and leading to breakthroughs. 1
Make time to do it and make time to do it as a practice. Find out what makes it work and find reasons to love it. Find reasons to do it even if you don’t like it, the same way you find reasons to talk to people you love when you don’t like them. Especially if the act reveals fear, anxiety, or impostorism, just do it.
Unfortunately it works the other way too: you can get in the practice of doing things that are terrible for you. So be sure to reflect and recognize when you’re practices are garbage.↩︎