There is a fundamental disconnect with most people on the difference between vacation time or taking a break vs. wasting time.
Some people will delude themselves in that they’re “taking a break” or “taking a rest” from their work when they’re actually just wasting time.
On the other side of the extreme, there are many workaholics who think that taking any time off is “lazy” and is “wasting time.”
In this article here, I described how forcing yourself to take a three-day weekend off per 90 days actually helps your productivity. This is because we are not robots and we are not supermen. Our brains need to take breaks in order to maintain a high level of effectiveness.
Similarly, throughout the workday, you need to take frequent breaks from your work (assuming you’re actually working and not being lazy or screwing around). You can work 10 hours a day if you like, just as long as you’re taking 10-15 minute breaks every hour or two. Working 10 hours straight with no breaks (or perhaps just one or two) will damage your productivity. You might as well just work five or six hours.
Taking breaks from your work is good. Wasting time is bad. What’s the difference?
The first difference is in duration. If you are working hard on your goals and your Mission and you take a 15 or 20 minute break to take a walk outside, that’s good. If instead you suddenly decide to go play baseball with your buddies for three hours, and this event wasn’t scheduled in advance, now you’re wasting time. You should be working.
If you take a 15 minute break to watch some interesting YouTube videos on weight loss or marketing, that’s good. If you spend three hours watching YouTube videos on politics or stand-up comedy, that’s bad; you’re wasting time.
The second difference is whether or not it’s pre-scheduled. If you go to the beach on Friday because going to the beach was in your schedule for several weeks as a pre-scheduled break, that’s good. If instead, on a Tuesday morning, instead of working on your goals, you suddenly decide to binge watch TV shows on Netflix for a few hours, that’s bad; you’re wasting time.
The third difference is in the activity itself. Break/vacation time should be recreational, using the literal meaning of the word, re-creational. You are re-creating yourself when you spend break/vacation time, rather than just wasting or killing time.
Examples of good break activities are:
- Going for a walk outside
- Watching interesting or educational YouTube videos for a little bit
- Cooking yourself a healthy lunch
- Reading educational or spiritual material
- Having sex
- Reading a really good novel
- Taking a quick power nap
Examples of wasting time would be things like:
- Smoking weed
- Watching stupid, political, or entertaining-but-useless YouTube videos
- Binge watching TV shows
- Bitching about politics on the internet
- Doing anything social media (unless it’s directly related to your business income)
- Trolling people on the internet, or responding to trolls
- Hanging out with your friends while just sitting around and not doing much
You could argue that some of the above wasting time activities don’t have to be wasting time and could be “break” time instead. That’s possible, but only if you set a timer on doing them for 10 or 15 minutes only. After about 15 minutes, let’s be honest… you’re wasting time.
It’s the same deal when you find yourself farting around on the internet. You could argue that reading interesting stuff on Wikipedia is “break” time, but I would argue that if you’re doing it for two hours when you should be working, you’re wasting time, not taking a break.
Duration, pre-scheduling, and activity. That’s how you determine if you’re spending important re-creational time or if you’re just wasting time.
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Do you use a pomodoro timer?
No. I use an android app on my phone called Stopwatch and Timer Plus. Pomodoro is a great time management method though; recommend it highly.
But Caleb, aren’t you a big movie buff? Just curious if you really schedule your movie time, or if you waste time to watch a movie (at least once in awhile).
Yes, I schedule my movie time, but that doesn’t mean I actually put it in the calendar like an appointment. Instead, every week when I plan my week, put into the plan that I’m allowed to go see one movie at the movie theater per week. Then I go see a movie whenever I want that week. (Most weeks I don’t see a movie at all.)
It’s the same as when I play computer games. When I’m actually playing a game (and usually I’m not, but right now I’m playing Pillars of Eternity), I’m allowed to play 4 nights a week for one hour each night (using a timer). Then I play any night I want, whenever I want, but limit it to 4 times per week and one hour per session.
Those are two examples of how instead of wasting time, I use my down time for re-recreational time instead.
Is the duration of your breaks always around the same regardless of your energy levels thar day?
And can you replace break time with coffee consumption? (instead of a 15 min break, take a 5 min break and drink a cup of coffee)
Ideally they should be. It’s just that if your energy levels are low, you won’t be able to put in as many hours, or as many constructive hours of work.
Have coffee while you work.
Awww man, come on, trolling isnt recreation!?
I’d love to see a post of you reviewing video games like you have movies!
In my opinion, a thing can’t be recreation if it isn’t healthy.
You could call trolling recreation the same way you could call shooting heroin in moderation recreation, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea nor healthy.
Here ya go: