I am a supreme procrastinator.
I also don’t spend my leisure time wisely. Stick me in front of a computer with an internet connection, and I’ll amaze you with my ability to make time evaporate with little or nothing to show for it.
Suffice it to say, it really bothers me. As someone who doesn’t believe in an afterlife, I feel I owe it to myself to spend what little time I have being happy, healthy, and surrounded by people I love. Squandering that finite time doesn’t sit well with me.
So I made the following chart for myself. I feel ridiculous sharing it, but I hope it’ll keep me accountable and maybe help someone else in the process.
It’s comprised of two parts: a list of “approved” daily physical and non-physical activities that represent productive ways of spending time, and a flowchart to help knock myself out of time-wasting mode. The latter reminds me of John Boyd’s OODA loop (observe, orient, decide, act).
For example, yesterday evening I found myself anxious at my computer with little to work on, so I grabbed a book and walked to a nearby park to read. Later I saw a movie and went to a friend’s show, and read a little more before falling asleep. A few weeks ago, I probably would have been tempted to spend the entire night on my computer.
Aside from using the chart to promote healthy living, I’m also trying to break bad habits. One being that I waste too much time noodling on my phone while walking (and in general). I once joked to a friend that “push notifications are worse than smoking.” It may sound absurd, but you’re essentially burning the candle from the other end—with smoking you’re reducing your overall lifespan, whereas checking frivolous messages on your phone is just inching yourself closer to death with minimal benefit.
My overall goal is to become more productive during my working hours, and when not working, only partaking in activities that enrich my life. That means minimizing wasted time, and ideally reducing my leisure time spent on a computer to near zero.
We’ll see how long I stick with it, but I’ve already accomplished more in the past few weeks than I usually would in a month. It’s exciting to feel at the reins again.