“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” said Socrates

In defence of being productively idle, time wasted is time well spent. Repeat that, time wasted in being wholly, happily, and proudly unproductive is actually time spent fulfilling your outer and inner self. Ever wondered what’s common between the world’s greatest scientists and CEOs who are able to make awe-inspiring discoveries and spurn business successes consistently? None of them work long hours. Rather, they organize their work days according to the ‘work’ at hand, not the ‘hours’ – a mistake most of us and our companies make when employees are mandated to ‘clock’ the standard eight hours, five days of the week.

However, in the race to personal productivity, guilt is a steady companion – the guilt of not achieving work-life balance, of not being able to prioritize family even when spending time with loved ones. And guilt makes the stress of time management even worse.

So here’s the challenge – can you waste five minutes today?

Can you spend five minutes doing nothing productive – just aimlessly strolling, eating, or watching TV? Or losing yourself in play with your kid without the worries of all the personal and home chores that demand your attention? Can you purposely avoid micro-managing every hour of your day just so you are able to squeeze time for everything on your to-do list? The ‘always-on’ part of your brain that tells you get more done in a day by being smarter, faster, a multi-tasker, a stress manager, and a person forever in the quest of work-life balance isn’t your best part. Your heart is. The silly, flexible, non-strategic always ready-to-play heart. Give in to it – even if for five minutes to begin with.

Wasted moments are vital to connect the dots between work and life

In his book Four seconds – All the time you need to stop counter-productive habits and get the results you want, Peter Bregman says, “I get my best ideas in the wasted moments – when I’m running, showering, sitting, doing nothing lying in bed, or waiting for someone. They are the moments in which I subconsciously organize my life, talk to myself, and listen to my inner self.” If there’s a task or project that requires you to be at your creative and productive best – resist the urge to fill every empty moment in your day with something or the other. Strategically, avoid strategy.

Prioritize your life journey over personal goals

If you’ve been chasing personal as well as professional goals up until now – regardless of whether they are ‘done’, ‘in process’ or ‘yet to start’ stop the chase. Reimagine your life as a process of growth and not merely achievement – this helps stem the guilt that comes from leaving things undone.

We’d love to hear how you felt after taking the ‘waste time’ challenge? What did you do? Did it help you reconnect with your heart? Keep the comments coming!

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