I am a professional time-waster. Everyone knows that about me. Time is something I have yet to grasp. It’s like I do not have an internal clock (and maybe that’s why I don’t grow up :p) So, since I have become so efficient at wasting my time, I thought I’d share my tips and tricks to have you benefit from my lifetime experience. I won’t lie, it was pretty hard to narrow it down to 8 but here is a selection of my all-time favorites.
#1. Procrastinate as much as you can the things that are meaningful to you because you fear not standing up to your high expectations of yourself. One essential rule is: focusing on details rather than on the bigger picture will ensure you never get anything done! So start and cram each and every day with doing the most futile things; one example being sowing the holes in your socks and underwear. You know it is not logical to do so, 1- they are pretty well-worn and will tear apart again surely the next time you put them on, and 2- you could just grab some new ones for less than 5 bucks next time you go shopping. The time that you spend on repairing should be more valuable to you than 5 miserable dollars, but remember you have this strange attachment to the familiar objects you own, plus there are some things in your upbringing that are just hard to fight.
#2. Stare in the distance, in a quasi-paralyzed position (sitting, standing, lying down, it doesn’t really matter), and launch your mind into a circular train of thought. By circular, I mean you ask yourself a question concerning for instance a societal problem, then you explain it to yourself with a no-solution open-ended answer, raising another societal issue that ties into the first one. Basically short circuit yourself. A labyrinthine train of thought works too, engage in thoughts that systematically hit dead ends.
From the outside, you’re gonna look like you just had a system bug. People might think you’re a little weird. Personally you have come to the conclusion that you’re a little autistic, but you can remain in disguise as you have the ability to communicate somewhat like a neurotypical.
#3. Did you know you can actually waste time by trying to save time? This is an interesting discovery. For instance, you try a shortcut on the road but then you end up in a zone 30 stuck behind local traffic or even better, you get lost! Either way you end up getting to your destination later. I like using this one because, past the wrong turn, it doesn’t only depend on you and can be indeed full of surprises.
#4. People have great classic time-wasters, like smoking cigarettes, playing online games, biting their nails… but I like to get original with my time-wasting. For instance, instead of biting my nails, I have moved to peeling the chaps off my lips. Now this one is for advanced candidates, you have to get skilled at doing this without making your lips bleed, otherwise it’s over, you come back to reality (grab a tissue, go wash your hands, clean the mess…). I recommend starting with another one for beginners, granted you have long enough hair. Take a strand of hair and a pair of scissors, and start cutting off split ends, hair by hair of course. Repeat process with a new strand of hair. You will be amazed at the time-sucking potential of this silly activity!
#5. Ok now a little more common one : still while you’re procrastinating, focus on your stomach and feeling psychosomatic hunger. Go then to the kitchen, open the fridge, the cabinets, cereal boxes, grab a piece of this and a piece of that, anything that can be consumed immediately, by hand or with a spoon, fork, etc. Once you feel bad and decide that that’s enough, go back to your room. Then, as soon as you sit down, pour into self-indulgence again, and repeat the process from the top. If you repeat it many times enough, you could actually take it to the next level and go make yourself throw up in the bathroom, which will total into some additional wasted precious minutes.
#6. Link-surf on Wikipedia, click on random names that sound interesting and/or funny, click on complicated words, concepts, things that belong into the realm of academia, e.g. ‘morpheme’, ‘Guaguancó’, ‘Cryptographic nonce’, etc. The complex terms is a great option. First, you most likely will have to read every sentence at least twice because it’s academia-lingo stuff that requires some prerequisites and prior readings. Second, for the same reason as above, you will find plenty of other new complicated terminology to click on so you can understand the first one in the first place. And then finally and most importantly, this is an inexhaustible source of time-wasting: chances are you will be clicking on the same words again and again the next time they come around because you forgot what they meant, if you ever did in the first place.
Variation on the same theme : link-surfing on Youtube, a wonderful resource of ludicrous time-consuming videos.
#7. If you feel really bad at this point, resolve to doing something that gives you an illusionary sense of productivity… like cleaning your computer. Start sorting out the 4000+ emails in your inbox, try organizing your folders and backups, deleting unnecessary copies of files that you have here in there from the last time you did something shady to your system and backed up frantically by fear of data loss. There is a treasure gold well of possibilities here to let the time fly by, you can literally waste days, and even entire weeks doing this instead of real productive things coming home after your full-time job. For example, start renaming the files in your music library one way (e.g. delete everything but the title of the song in the file’s name), then change your mind somewhere down the road and go back to renaming from the top (e.g. go back and add the number of the track at the beginning so the files follow the track order of the album in the folder). Reiterate at your whim (e.g. decide you want to capitalize each letter of the song’s title, or even better, check online how the track names appear on the backside of the album). NB : constantly questioning your own decisions and changing your mind works with all other things as well.
#8. Take your time in the bathroom (my favorite place to waste time), you do not have to get up when you’re done… instead you can play solitary card games on your iPod, check the local temperatures in Beijing, or grab the nail-clipper. Once you’re done with your nails, start trimming the dead skins around your nails. Once you’re done with that, take your socks off and repeat with your toes. Also, you do not have to be doing anything, you can just be thinking to yourself with time-waster #2 above. A good rule-of-thumb to know if you’ve been there long enough is when you feel pins and needles in your legs. Now be careful in the bathroom because there is a trap: for some bizarre reasons that conjure in that environment, you might actually end up having productive thoughts like making up a list of your favorite time-wasters to post online.
Naturally you can combine all of these tricks, mix them up at your will, experiment with variations, etc.
Interestingly enough, I do not like when others waste my time. I like to be fully responsible and hold some control over my time-wasting.
Hope this was helpful, you might have learned something from me, or I might just have wasted your time.
Now how about you ? What’s your personal favorite time-waster ?