Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ten Time-Tested Time Wasters

Wasted time is on my mind this morning.  Could it have something to do with having agreed to spend what turned out to be two full hours last night on the receiving end of a "free" carpet cleaning?  Of course, there's no such thing as a free lunch, or carpet cleaning, or laptop whose lure keeps "popping up" on my computer screen.  A lesson I should have learned long ago, you might think.  

But years of drift, which might sound like but has little in common with the "flow" we keep hearing so much about, have strengthened some bad habits.  One of these is reflexive agreeability.  Since I haven't always had the clearest idea of what I wanted and needed to be doing with my time, I have been pretty sloppy about allowing others to claim large chunks of it.  Last night may have served as an inoculation.  

The young man who used his amazing machine to pull up disgusting amounts of dog hair and what he discretely referred to as "human ash" from my 30-year-old once-terra-cotta wall-to-wall was doomed from the get-go.  What he was trying to sell me came with a sticker price equivalent to a functional car my teenagers would die for.  Or the medical bills we are struggling to pay as my professor-husband's salary shrinks with involuntary furloughs.  Or the amount  my human-vacuum teenage boys would like to spend on fast food in a month.  No way to squeeze the low, low monthly payments into the household red ink columns.  All in all, an all-around waste of time.

So with this experience fresh, I have jotted down a few things I mean to do less of.  Notice I have not said "avoid entirely."  A certain amount of off-task activity may be needed to keep me sane.  And I've already given up "Countin' flowers on the wall....Smokin' cigarettes and watchin' Captain Kangaroo."

Ten Time-Tested Time Wasters
  1. Agreeing to stuff just to be agreeable.  See above.
  2. Farming on Facebook.  If I don't visit the game page, I don't have to see my withered crops and fallow fields.
  3. Playing Solitaire 'til Dawn.  Yes, it was mentioned in the Statler Brothers' song referenced above.  The addictive computer game borrowed the name, but does at least allow the "user" to play with a full deck, not the song's clearly futile "deck of 51." 
  4. Googling old lost friends and acquaintances.  Not really compatible with the "be here now" maxim I aspire to.
  5. Attending meetings with "time-wasting morons."  Scott Adams had this one right.  I would add that doing so automatically makes me one.
  6. Finishing books I've lost interest in, just because I started reading them.
  7. Surfing the net in general, looking for dread diseases I might have, arcane solutions to household problems, freebies I could pick up from Freecycle, or incredible deals on Craigslist and ebay.
  8. Aimless shopping.  Enough said.
  9. Taking out so many library books that I could never read them all, and renewing them so many times that I end up having to dust them.
  10. Feeling bad about all the time I've wasted in the past.
Having admitted publicly to indulging in such low priority activities may prove antidotal.  It should at least raise the profile of time wasters, so that I am more acutely aware of their cumulative effect.  And increase the squirm factor should I start to slide.

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