I don’t normally link to stories Iike this, especially if they have the word ‘maximise’ in the title. My favourite stories usually involve Teh Cute. However, this hits on a few things I’ve been saying for years. Namely:
‘What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare [at cats]’
I may not have the quote exactly right, and at our house, it’s mandatory to add ‘at cats’, but you get the idea. I know we’re all busy, we all have a lot of demands on our time, a lot of things screaming for our attention, deadlines that must be met.
But people are not machines. We need time to do nothing. We need time to sit and daydream. Or not think at all. In some areas, this is called sitting zazen although you don’t have to sit. Old Eternal told me that when she was a kid, every time it rained, her mother/my grandmother went for a long walk. If anyone asked if they could go with her, she’d say no. Then she’d put up her umbrella and saunter off into the wet for half an hour.
Apparently the walking-in the-rain thing is genetic because I’ve been known to do the same thing, although I’ll let someone come with me if they promise they won’t do anything that could be construed as an errand or a chore. Grandma on the other hand had seven kids and usually no fewer than three extra relatives, not to mention anyone else she might have taken in because they had nowhere else to go. So I understand why Grandma preferred to walk solo.
But my point is, you need to have periods of time when you are not justifying your existence, to anyone, time when you are not improving, learning, thinking constructively, or applying yourself. And you need to spend those times away from the Internet and/or the TV and/or videogames. Your brain needs to have some time when nothing is required of it, when it doesn’t have to work on something important or challenging or even fun. It needs time to do its own thing. Personally, I think of this as giving the black box time to digest.
You may not find all of the advice in this article appealing and maybe some things won’t work for you. However, if you do nothing else do this one thing: get enough sleep.
If you’re sleep-deprived, you’re in a bad way. Sometimes this can’t be helped––if you’ve got a new baby, a colicky baby, a toddler running a fever of 105F, some other family member who is ill and needs care, or some other extraordinary situation, this isn’t aimed at you, although I really hope you get to a place very soon where you can get more rest, because you sure need it.
Sleep-deprivation isn’t just *really bad*––it’s a form of torture used on prisoners in very bad places in the world. All torture begins with sleep-deprivation––trust me, no self-respecting sadistic interrogator ever hung well-rested prisoners up by their thumbs. So if you’re not getting enough sleep, you are, in fact, subjecting yourself to torture. Would you do that to your best friend? Then don’t do it to yourself.
As I said, the rest of the advice here may or may not apply to you. In general, I don’t have much trouble blocking minimising my time online. There’s always someone somewhere being wrong on the Internet. The thing is, I’m extremely lazy. Do I get involved with that, or do I spend the same amount of time goofing off? Do I have to tell you goofing off wins every time?
And when was the last time someone who was wrong on the Internet actually gave deep consideration to your words and said, ‘Damn, baby, you’re right! I’ve had my head up my ass. I feel so foolish. Let’s be friends!’
The only other thing I’d exercise caution about is the shutting-down ritual. I know so many people with a touch of OCD and for them, this could b a slippery slope. I don’t think of myself as particularly OCD––people as lazy as I am don’t look for more things to do––but then I noticed I’m doing this thing with the light switches in the hallway. Right now it’s only quirky but I think it’s got to stop anyway.
But I digress….