Notes to myself: Plan conscious “time-wasters” to not waste your time.

Sometimes I need to perform activities which contribute little or nothing to my day. They are a non-productive time wasters when I’m not focusing on work-related issues or thinking. I would also qualify in this category things such as eating, napping, walking my dog and a few more… Although they are essential to life in general, I don’t consider them as productive per se. Time wasting is usually viewed as something terrible, but I don’t believe that’s always true. Simply, humans can’t live without it.

So what is the alternative?

Allocate time to my time-wasters. Splitting my work into manageable chunks and plan the day before it starts by creating a few 1 or 1.5-hour slots and figuring out what I want to achieve during that time. This approach is commonly known as Rhythmic Philosophy.

Standard time-wasters now become the “conscious time-wasters”. They are a vital part of my daily routine. These are usually shorter than 1 hour, and I don’t plan more than two within a day. They consist of things such as grabbing some food, checking emails, catching up with friends on WhatsApp, checking social media sites like Instagram and LinkedIn. I don’t like to be interrupted during my productive hours. Thus, planned time off is an excellent way to maintain balance (and play with my dog).

What I described so far applies to ‘at the home time’, when I have full control over my day. It will be tough to apply it in a typical corporate job when we heavily rely on people around us. To do that, I recently switched to a different strategy to manage my workload at the office, and it is similar to Bimodal Philosophy. The first part of the day (early morning) when I’m full of energy, I dedicate to deep focus. After lunch, I’ve got another slot like that. Everything before and after is available for chats, meetings and other random stuff.

Why do I need my “conscious time-wasters”?

I know a few people who thought they are very efficient and in full control of their habits. After we carefully measured their distractions throughout the day, we found out how wrong they were. Lack of self-awareness is a very dangerous thing and comes with a price.

“I will live the focused life because it’s the best kind there is” — Winifred Gallagher

The main reason to plan my “conscious time-wasters” is to help me stay focused. It’s a skill of negotiation with myself on how much work I’m willing to do now in return for a free time later. My days became more fulfilling, productive, and at the end, I feel like it wasn’t another wasted opportunity to be a little bit better than a day before.

Notes to myself

  • Kill the distractors.
    I don’t need a TV. I don’t need video games. I don’t have to kill my free time with alcohol. These are beautiful ways to make days a bit better. Permanently.
  • Allocate time to distractions.
    They are going to happen throughout my day anyway, if well planned, I will know precisely when and how they will impact my work.
  • Don’t let your day run on autopilot.
    I can’t be efficient if I don’t know how my perfect day can look like. Running on autopilot is going to bring distractions, especially when I start feeling stressed or tired.
  • Reflect on your day and improve tomorrow.
    There is nothing more satisfying than saying “that was a bloody amazing day and I achieved so much!” at the end of a good day.
  • Ask questions…
    “What is important for you today?”

Healing software engineering teams for a decade. People focused guy, trying to change the world one little step at a time. Automotive photographer after hours.