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Rule #52. Time that you enjoy wasting isn’t always wasted time.
When I started riding my bike to work, a few people asked me if I thought it was the most efficient use of my time. On the days I rode I spent about an hour riding to work compared to the fifteen or twenty minutes I’d spend driving. That is a significant difference; riding to and from work three times a week meant that there were up to four and a half hours that I spent on the bike instead of doing other things. Biking to and from work was not the most efficient use of my time. Some might even say that it was wasted time, but I did it anyway. Because I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it, and time that you enjoy wasting isn’t always wasted time.
We, as a culture, put a great emphasis on efficiency, productivity, and being busy. That’s all well and good, but there’s more to life than getting things done. Efficiency and productivity are important. We can’t make forward progress without putting in the work, no doubt about that.
But if you’re not enjoying the fruits of your labor, you’re missing out.
You deserve a little time to relax. To hang out with your friends. To spend time with loved ones. You need to get things done, but you also need to spend some time not getting things done too. Seriously, learn to relax a little. Learn to be just a bit lazy from time to time.
I’ll never go back to living on the couch and spending all my time outside of work on Netflix. That’s not the life I want anymore. But I never feel guilty with watching a couple episodes of a show with my wife after dinner. We work, train, and play hard. We don’t mind wasting a little time together, because it isn’t wasted to us. It’s a moment to unwind at the end of the day, to laugh together, and to let go of the day’s stress. It’s “us time.” We could use that time more efficiently, we could get more done, or we could get more sleep. Really though, I think spending a little time doing nothing of consequence makes us more productive when we are working, training, or practicing. It creates a balance that helps keep us from burning out. As odd as it may sound, being unproductive helps us be more productive.
It’s important to get things done, to work toward your goals, and to persevere when the going gets tough. It’s also important to spend some time with your sweetie, your friends, or even just yourself. That down time is important, so as long as you’re leading a balanced life, don’t feel bad about time that isn’t spent being busy. Remember, time that you enjoy wasting isn’t always wasted time.
“Rules for Intrepid Living” is an ongoing weekly article that gives potential guidelines for how we can all live a more adventurous life.