On Wasting Time

March 24, 2006

One reason I need to increase efficiency and productivity is to make up for vast quantities of “wasted” time in my life. I’m quite sure that’s true. But still I question myself, what is wasted time? I mean, some time is inarguably, frustratingly wasted, like getting halfway to work and realizing I’ve left my laptop at home and having to backtrack 10 extra miles. That’s plain infuriating. Unless you happen to see a pileated woodpecker or something in that extra leg. And how often is that? (Once.)

But other things that tend to fall into the category of time wasting, I’m not so sure. Especially in the philosophic mood this week finds me in, having just had a long weekend’s whirlwind celebration of my mother’s 80 hale years, and then having heard news of two untimely deaths in my circle (a 40-something woman and a 16-year-old man). Makes ya kind of pause and think it really doesn’t matter, really, if I get that trim around the bathroom windows painted right now, or after the college basketball season… and that sort of thing.

So, noodling around websites that make you laugh or tickle your interest—even if they don’t really relate to anything productive in your life—is that a waste? I haven’t gotten to where I schedule time for it, like I do for exercise or socializing or dogwalking or things that I would declare important and inalienable in my pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. It gets fit into the interstices between these things, and sometimes, like the moss in sidewalk cracks, it takes root and expands the allotted space and if it gets really bad it cracks the cement block around it, which is usually (analogically speaking) domestic upkeep or timely arrival at appointed thingies.

(Like right now, after work and before meeting friends for dinner, I was supposed to go get a new headlamp for my car, but writing this, which I didn’t really intend to do, is cutting into the time available to get to AutoZone and back to Naked Fish in time…. But what’s important? The right-hand headlight still works.)

I blather on about this as my means of introducing a couple of sites that have delighted me (and sucked up time) lately. Best has been sent to my by colleague Todd, who got it from former colleague David, and it’s called The Institute of Official Cheer. Who can resist the “Gallery of Regrettable Food” or “Interior Desecrations”?

Rather lower brow is a collection of TV news bloopers on YouTube, which for some stupid reason crack me up. Laughing is therapeutic, no? So is it a waste of time?

When I’m really suffering low blood flow to the brain, I can pretty reliably get a chuckle out of Engrish.com, a photo compendium of Japanese and Korean signs and t-shirts in English. It’s the proofreader and kid-who-grew-up-watching-Monty-Python’s-Flying-Circus in me that makes me susceptible.

For more intelligent stimulus, I love 3 Quarks Daily. As we say around these parts, wicked smaht.

Ah-ha, that site just offered up justification for all this “time wasting”! With a link to a Fortune article entitled Be Smarter at Work, Slack Off.

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