The never-ending list of chores that need to be completed will always be there. Our culture tells us to finish our chores and work right away and not waste time. Therefore, we always feel guilty when we fail to finish a task.
However, the reality is, when you spend your life diligently doing your work, responding to emails, and having no free time – it will be a dull one.
Oliver Burkeman, the creator of “Inbox Zero” talks about his commission to write a book about his new streamlined email system. After two years, he turned down the project because (as he wrote in his blog) he didn’t want to miss out important situations anymore. He says that he has already spent enough time planning how to best spend his time that he missed many bonding moments with his daughter.
The problem arises when we are so focused on being productive that we lose ourselves; we lose sleep, we don’t take breaks, we exhaust ourselves. And even if we manage to find some free time between the responsibilities, we spend it by thinking and worrying of all the things that we need to finish and that’s when we let guilt weigh us down.
That’s why we tend to sit in front of our computers, scroll through social media and contribute to neither our productivity nor our happiness. The idea that we must work all the time is hard to let go off. We refuse to take a walk because we fool ourselves into thinking we are multitasking while in fact, we are only looking for distractions on social media.
“People eat at the desk and get food on the computer—it’s disgusting. They should go for a walk, to the coffee shop, just get away,” says Michael Guttridge, a psychologist whose focus is workplace behavior. “Even Victorian factories had some kind of rest breaks.”
The truth is, we don’t need to work hard. We can manage to get a lot of things done in considerably fewer office hours because we expand the work we need to do to fill the work hours. Therefore, many of us can do the same amount of work in fewer hours.
“Wasting time is about recharging your battery and de-cluttering,” says Guttridge. We should all take time to relax, take a deep breath and proudly and totally unproductive. That will make us even better workers, says Guttridge.
We should take time to do the things we love without feeling guilty because not having excitement and fun outside of the workplace can lead to disastrous results and impair our productivity.
At the end of the day, we should all embrace the art of doing absolutely nothing or wasting time binge-watching TV or walking around the park. We should all cherish these moments and look at them as time well spent.
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