In those few moments when we stand aside to wonder what happened, perhaps after things have gone wrong and we have failed to reach our desired goals, we usually revisit our wasted time quite negatively, building our schedules again trying not to waste a minute, but we By this we miss what might really be the cause of our problems, which is to contemplate what we do in the wasted time itself, because there will always be wasted time like it or not, and the problem is not to put it aside, but perhaps to work on understanding and organizing it, in this report Arthur C. Brooks, Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School, in organizing your downtime.
Several days ago, in an attempt to get away from my afternoon work, I decided to pick up Henry David Thoreau’s Walden (an autobiography of the author during the two years he spent in a small house he built near Walden Pond Lake in Massachusetts, USA). It soon became clear to me that it was the right choice, as Thoreau had plenty to tell us about wasting time, as he says in one quotation:
“The price of anything I have is the amount of time I spend practicing it, now or in the long term.”
Thoreau’s view is not that everyone should focus on work without breathing space or play. On the contrary, Thoreau is one of the most prominent critics of this theory, but he says that we waste a lot of our lives on things we don’t really appreciate, and without consideration To think about it, fiasco becomes our ally when we test how much we value the cost and benefit of things in relation to what we spend, and it is not money that is the measure of the test here, but time; Which is the most important factor.
This argument is really hard to refute, and the reason is that it is based on the fact that many of the pastimes in which we spend so much of our lives give us only temporary satisfaction, but that we soon fall into the rubble of anxiety and bite our fingers in remorse after we have succeeded in pulling ourselves away. about these means.
The most important example here comes from a report by Nielsen (which measures television audiences). In the first quarter of 2020, the average American was spending three hours and 43 minutes a day watching live TV, and while that’s a waste of a lot of hours, it’s still less than the three hours and 46 minutes they spend staring at their smartphones.
Activities outside of work are not necessarily a waste of time, but on the contrary, a lot of research evidence indicates that spending time in daydreaming and enjoying hobbies away from work is not only beneficial for achieving happiness, but also helps improve work performance, and reach levels Higher than creativity.
There are really two ways to waste time; Either you immerse yourself completely in something that distracts you from your most productive activities, or you deliberately immerse yourself in something that doesn’t really capture your love or interest at all. We may fall into anxiety and regret in these two instances of wasting time, but if we avoid them, we can free ourselves, for we will be surprised at a new store of time that we can use in joyful and fruitful ways.
We have all done this, wasting our time on something, prioritizing it over something more valuable, and then lashing out at ourselves. One time, I stayed up until 3am watching Howard the Duck, which has been ranked one of the worst films in history, and it happened the night before an important morning job interview (to make matters worse, the plot of the movie is still lingering in my memory).
In this case, the time wasted depended on my miscalculating the price of the opportunity to watch the movie, not weighing carefully the value of everything else I could have done instead, such as sleeping. If humans were perfectly rational creatures, then we could study the costs and benefits of each activity sufficiently to avoid such mistakes, or at least not to repeat them, but all our experiences in life have helped us realize that things do not work that way.
Even the experts themselves were not spared from making this mistake. In one experiment with economists, nearly 80% of the participants failed to correctly estimate the opportunity cost (an opportunity is a benefit that a person could have obtained, but he gave up That’s to do something else.)
These mistakes occur as a result of a lack of previous planning, as we surrender to this impulsive adolescent inside us, who does not see tomorrow, but does not have a concept of it, and at the same time controls our executive mental functions. This leads us to overvalue short-term pleasures and underestimate things that bring about long-term well-being. The consequences of this can be somewhat trivial, like playing “Angry Birds” for another ten minutes, or more dangerous as deciding to smoke an extra day (every day).