What does it mean, to waste time?
If I sit and stare at the wall all day long, is that a waste?
My first instinct would be to say yes, but it’s more complicated than that. What if, while I’m staring at the wall, I have a profound epiphany that changes my life forever? What if staring at the wall is how I meditate, and without that time I’d go insane?
Well, in those goofy scenarios, staring at the wall is probably the best thing I can do.
So when I sit down and think about what exactly I should and should not be spending time on, there arises a conflict.
Is writing this blog a waste of time, when I ought to be writing something else? I could be working on my next novel, or working on a submission for entry into a magazine. Why should I spend my limited creative energy on a shitty blog post that maybe 3 people will ever read?
Is playing video games a waste of time? Sometimes, sure. If I play video games to the detriment of my physical health, definitely. But what if gaming is the only social outlet I have left? What if in this quarantine, playing games with my friends is the only thing that keeps me sane? Well then, in that case video games would be the best thing I can do with my time.
Whatever we choose to spend our time on, there is always a dichotomy of waste versus utility. Like, if I am awake for 16 hours a day (assuming I don’t sleep for 12 hours+), what would an optimal time table even look like?
I don’t want to kill myself trying to be super productive 24/7, but at the same time I don’t want to kill myself from a sheer lack of activity. I don’t want to over-work, nor do I want to under-work. I want to find the Goldilocks Zone of Productivity.
But that’s a tricky question in and of itself. Not only do I have to figure out exactly what I want to spend my time on, I also have to figure out how much time ought to be spend on what things…
Here are some things I want to spend more time on in the coming months:
Quality time with family
And here are some things I want to spend less time doing:
Digital media (i.e. Netflix, Youtube, etc.)
It’s a simple enough proposition to say, OK, I want less of column B and more of Column A. Right? But at what point does entertainment go from a healthy pastime to an unhealthy time-waster? Two hours? Three? Eight? How much is too much?
A solution for this that I’ve been experimenting with is imposing upon myself “work hours”. Like, I’ll get up before 9 AM, and from 9 AM until 5 PM, that will be my work time. I’ll write, cook, clean, study, and generally do all the things I want more of in my life. And after 5, I’ll relax. I’ll play games with friends, goof off on Youtube, and generally have a good time.
Except, what happens when that entertainment rolls on until 4 AM, and suddenly my entire sleep schedule is fucked because I didn’t want to go to sleep? Then I wake up at 4 PM, work for one hour, and then do it all over again? Then my entire schedule is fucked.
I don’t really have an answer for this. Maybe one of the three people who read this have an answer. If so, leave me a note in the comments. Maybe, reading this blog is an unhealthy time-waster for you. Or, maybe reading blogs is the only thing that keeps you sane in these crazy fucking times.
Too much of a good thing, and all that.
I wish I had a robot that could point a gun at my head and force me to do the things I’m supposed to do. He could threaten me under penalty of death to write for three hours a day. He could force me to eat vegetables, and to run every morning, and to wake up every day no later than 8 o’clock sharp. He could force me to lay down in bed at midnight, not one minute later, and he could read me a bedtime story with the cold steel of a 22 long barrel pistol pressed up against the back of my head. He could nuzzle it into my neck, and I could fall asleep in the sweet security of my own self-imposed death penalty. I could know, then, that my course was set, that my destiny was determined, and that I was finally the master of my own fate. Under threat of death, I could finally ascend to the level of my own potential.
Until that day, I’ll just have to figure this shit out on my own. Maybe if I sell a novel to a big publishing house I’ll be able to hire someone to hold a gun to my head all day. A man can dream.