Work is important, but it is also important to have time in your life where you can “waste time.” Most people believe that the balance of life is having time for working but then also being able to relax as well; how can we feel balanced when every minute of your time is scheduled? There should be enough time in your life to, for instance, be able to spend a Saturday morning just relaxing the hours away.
I’m writing this on Saturday, and I’ve spent a lot of time today just “doing stuff.” I’ve spent some time reading, some time doing various things around the house, some time just sitting in my chair thinking. What have I accomplished, short of actually sitting down to write an article?
Not much. And the great thing about that is that I’ve been up over seven hours. I got up at my usual 5 AM on a Saturday because I like to. I got up and have done basically nothing all day.
I love my life. I love being able to waste time without feeling guilty. Admittedly, I can’t waste all my time, and I wouldn’t want to. I don’t feel good when I spend too much time doing “nothing much.” There’s a limit to how much of that I want to do.
But having had a life in which every minute “counted” and I spent almost all of my waking hours working, I’m grateful for the time I can waste. I’m glad to be able to get in the car and drive over to the lake and spend some time enjoying the day.
I believe work is important. I also believe time off is important. Specifically, I believe our lives need to be balanced. I know very few people who don’t do anything productive with their time, and of the two or three I’ve met in my life, none of them were happy.
I also know many people who spend most of their time working and producing and achieving, and most of them are pretty unhappy.
If you talk to one person about balance, you’ll probably get a completely different definition and example from what you’ll get by talking to their next-door neighbor. But I think you’ll always hear things about spending enough time working and enough time relaxing and having a life that is not too skewed in either direction.
I think having time to waste is a big part of balance, because how can we feel balanced when every minute is scheduled? Even if they’re scheduled for family activities or “fun,” how an we really be relaxed and at peace when we know we have to get up and go do something in five minutes, and we always know that?
I’m all for scheduling and doing things at particular times to make sure things get done. I’m all for getting things done, because we do need to achieve and accomplish. That’s how we’re built.
But we’re also built to enjoy relaxing and wasting time, and I think that may be the most important characteristic of a balanced life.
How can you waste more time, and have better wasted time?
- Make a point of not scheduling certain parts of your day or week, for instance Saturday mornings.
- When you start thinking, “I should do something productive,” ask why.
- If you don’t really need to do anything, waste some time.