Articles

The psychological importance of wasting time

There will always be an endless list of chores to complete and work to do, and a culture of relentless productivity tells us to get to it right away and feel terribly guilty about any time wasted. But the truth is, a life spent dutifully responding to emails is a dull one indeed. And “wasted” time is, in fact, highly fulfilling and necessary.

The problem comes when we spend so long frantically chasing productivity, we refuse to take real breaks. We put off sleeping in, or going for a long walk, or reading by the window—and, even if we do manage time away from the grind, it comes with a looming awareness of the things we should be doing, and so the experience is weighed down by guilt.

Instead, there’s a tendency to turn to the least fulfilling tendency of them all: Sitting at our desk, in front of our computer, browsing websites and contributing to neither our happiness nor our productivity.

At the end of the day, all of us have the urge to waste time flicking through a magazine, walking around the block, or simply doing nothing. We should embrace these moments, and see them as what they are: time well spent.

Question: What’s your favorite way to waste time? How do you avoid wasting time?

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