The art of screwing off effectively

Written by Paul on August 15th, 2008

Whether you’re working for someone else or running your own gig, you’re probably going to slack off at some point. I should know, I do it and so do most of the people I know. Unfortunately, efficiently wasting time remains a complex, underestimated and often misunderstood task.

In my experience, some of my most productive moments occur when I take a break and waste a little time.

Just remember that there’s a fine line between using your downtime effectively and stealing time or resources from your employer, family or friends. First and foremost, if you’re getting paid to do a job, that work needs to be your top priority. Don’t forget about your family either.

With that being said, there are some ways to use your legitimate downtime to focus on getting ahead.

  1. Exercise: This is the best way to spend your down time. A good workout gets your mind off of things and gets your body in shape at the same time. Try to get into a routine of working out at least 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes — it’s easier than you think and you’ll probably gain some new perspectives on yourself in the process.
  2. Change your environment: A change in scenery is well worth the effort. It can be as simple as heading over to a new coffee shop or taking a weekend getaway. Putting yourself into new situations tends to give you a new perspective on things.
  3. Read a book: There’s nothing like holding a book in your hands and flipping through the pages. Pick up a book from time to time and get a new perspective on things. I’ve been picking up books from the Personal MBA’s recommended reading list and running through them on the weekends.
  4. Go offline: This can be as effective as you want it to be. Some people simply turn off their laptop while others ditch technology for the weekend and go cold turkey. Personally, I’ll grab my notebook & trusty pen and head off to a local coffee shop. Using a nice pen and paper is much more relaxing than you might think — seeing your thoughts on paper tends to help you see them from a totally different perspective.
  5. Take a Nap: This is a tough one — I’ve found it hard to not feel guilty for taking a nap in the middle of the day. Despite what you may think, your body needs rest from time to time. Don’t feel bad for taking a 15 minute nap on the couch. You’ll bounce back with more energy than you think.

So, continue screwing off — just make it worthwhile in the process. If you’ve got any other ideas on how to effectively waste time, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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2 Responses to “The art of screwing off effectively”

  • Diana D. Jarvis

    Definitely arts and crafts projects. Making something with your hands helps clear your mind and gives a new perspective. You also have a tangible accomplishment when you’re done. Saying “I made that” is very satisfying.

    — 08/19/08 at 7:53 am

  • Definitely taking a nap, that’s the one for me…

    — 09/04/08 at 11:34 am

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