What is a waste of time?
It made me think.
How do we define time well spent and time wasted?
The artist, Alyson, seems to have changed her view over the course of her project:
As the project goes on I have become more restrictive in my definition of what a waste of time is. I see it as any situation that I feel was useless or uncomfortable and offered little or no redemption. I realized early in this project that much of the time that I had casually thought of as wasted was actually pretty productive. For instance, daydreaming can be very useful, as can going to get a cup of coffee.
I’m not sure I’d define it the same way. Sometimes we have to endure situations which seem useless and learn from them. Uncomfortable things can be necessary, like medical appointments.
But I’d agree that daydreaming and fetching coffee can be productive, although they can also be procrastination.
The same activity can be either, depending on attitude. If you enjoy it, then it is not such a waste of time as if you are not enjoying it.
Is it a waste of an hour to watch something trashy but fun and relaxing on television? Not if it refreshes you and helps you face the rest of your tasks. But it is if you are not enjoying it!
I watched the first two episodes of a new sci-fi drama with Tim. But I gave up on it because it failed to engage me. If that was the only thing we did together, it might not have been a waste of time as it would give us some together time and something to chat about. But we watch other things together and share various hobbies and outings, so I decided my life was too short to follow that show any more.
Some things need doing, so they are not a waste of time, but we do them inefficiently. I can be quite indecisive and over-analytical, so I take too long choosing stuff. And then I don’t always make the right choice! But does that mean I should delegate all my decision making to someone else? I hardly think so! But I do need to be aware of my problem and sometimes just pick one.
Procrastination is a classic part of our definition of time wasting. But that again is more complex if you take a closer look. Sometimes we procrastinate by doing something that is useful, but less urgent than the task being put off, such as the washing up. It needed doing, it’s not a waste of time.
I have the unfortunate tendency to procrastinate by not doing useful tasks. I convince myself that if I can do anything, it ought to be the task I am hiding from and I mustn’t spend my meagre energy supply on some other task instead as then I might not be able to do the task.
So I whiffle about. I linger in bed, reading. I read blogs. I play online jigsaws. I watch something on television. And sometimes I fritter away whole days, thus achieving neither the unwanted task or anything else useful! Then the guilt kicks in… which is both unhelpful and very wrong. Now that is wasting time.
If I just decided not to do the thing that day, I can then get on and at the very least, have a fun and relaxing day, which might put me in a better frame of mind for the next day.
I did that today in fact. Although now this blog post is turning into a complete monster! I’ve already cut 500 words to turn into another post! And I have spent over two hours trying to get it written, which time includes some of those procrastination activities I mentioned earlier…
I’m going to stop here before it gets even longer!
What do you think is a waste of time? What do you think is not a waste of time that most people think is? Do you know any good cures for procrastination?