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Wasting time

Is it possible to waste absolutely zero time?

In My Experimental Life, A.J. Jacobs experiments with getting rid of all irrational beliefs and myths he’s been told by the internet, his mum, people on the street, all so that he can live a rational life.

One of them is that ‘You need to comb your hair until your scalp tingles – or else you’ll go bald’ (which his mum actually told him.) After he looks into it and finds out it’s about as valid as saying ‘A watched kettle never boils,’ he realizes he had wasted all this extra time unnecessarily brushing his hair – 3 whole days of his life to that point, to be precise.

What things are you doing that is actually a waste of time?

Yesterday I wrote about doing things with a purpose vs. doing things aimlessly. Doing something because it makes you laugh or because you love it (no matter what it is) is not a waste of time. Doing something ‘because there’s nothing else to do’ or ‘because I’m bored’ is not.

Here is an experiment I’m thinking about trying – Don’t waste 1 second of the day.

I don’t know if this is possible, but actually… I think it might be. If, and only if, what constitutes ‘wasting time’ is scrupulously defined, without any wiggle room.

I would define it as ‘doing something for no purpose’.

For example, opening the TSN sports app on my phone, even though I’m not really interested in US pro sports at this point in the season just because ‘why not?’ = bad.

But watching an episode of the cartoon The Moomins because I like it (and actually has good lessons for adults sometimes) = okay.

What about when you get on a bus, and instead of sitting in the first available seat, you walk down to the back of the bus? That extra few seconds is a waste of time. You’re not actively thinking of anything useful at that point and probably thinking about nothing more than finding the right seat. And it doesn’t get you any closer to your destination. And, then you have to walk it all the way back when you’re getting off.

Now this is only saves you a few seconds, yes. If you catch the bus 5 days a week, twice a day, and as soon as you get on the bus, you sit down in the first available seat, you might save 20 seconds a day. But, let’s say you caught the bus every day for 48 weeks of the year, (average, considering days off, and days where you catch it more) you save over an hour a year,

Now that’s basically fuck all, but it illustrates a point.

It’s still dead time. Time used without purpose.

What other things do we do which is just useless dead time? Where you aren’t either thinking consciously, but also aren’t relaxing either?

What about, for example, taking the rubbish out from the house to the street bin? That is dead time.

Is it possible to sprint, like Usain Bolt, to and from the street bin with the rubbish bag, to minimise dead time? (This though might actually cause more dead time, because while sprinting, you might break your ankle or tear your ACL and then you have to go to hospital or be bed ridden for a weeks days or even weeks. But actually… that will not be dead time, because at least in a hospital bed, you are relaxing and thinking consciously about stuff you want to think about. And with your leg all busted up, you can read a lot in bed, or watch a lot of movies you really like).

In Judaism, the Sabbath has multiple purposes. It’s not just for rest, it’s for rejuvenation. And some people credit it for the high level of innovation, creativity and intelligence that comes out of Israel and in Jewish people around the world.

Some struggle with the idea that they need time to ‘relax’ – they get restless and bored, and even feel guilty because they’re ‘not doing anything.’ But you do need time for ‘rejuvenation’. And using your time consciously and for a purpose is not a waste of time. It is crucial to living a good life.

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