Are You Wasting Your Time? Maybe Not.
by Jamie Spannhake
June 07, 2021
In my group coaching program recently, my clients and I were talking about "wasting time." We were discussing how we all engage in some kind of activity that is mindless and seems to be a waste of time. I was reminded of a quote my dad sent to me a few years ago:
"The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."
I like this quote for several reasons.
First, it is hard for me to engage in activities that I don't automatically see as "productive." Fortunately, my idea of productivity is changing with time. I now know that downtime is critical for creativity and creative problem-solving. Without giving our brains a break, we are less effective and less productive. So downtime is indirectly productive.
Secondly, it gives me permission to do what I want sometimes without worrying about whether it's the right or best thing to do. As we discussed in the coaching session, sometimes we need to "veg out." It can be our mind's way of telling us to take a break. Maybe we need to listen to that request rather than beating ourselves up for not doing enough, or being enough.
In our coaching group, one thing we decided to try was to not feel guilty about our "wasted time." Instead, we committed to being present in our downtime and embracing it so that we can enjoy it. We agreed to consider: Maybe we are doing exactly what we need when we spend an hour virtual window shopping. Maybe it is a sign that we want a change of some kind; or a sign that we have been working really hard and need a break. We agreed that whatever we were doing we would treat ourselves with self-compassion.
However you spend your time, enjoy it. And when you decide you don't want to be spending your time doing that activity, then move on to something else, without regret.