Problem 4 - Wasting Time
Sunday, November 18, 2018 at 18:47
Mark Forster in Articles, problems

“I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked.”

―  Character from C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters

The above quote sums it up very neatly. Wasted time is time in which you don’t do what you ought to do (“work”) or what you want to do (“pleasure”). It is quite different from rest time, which often falls under both of these categories.

Typical examples of wasted time: 

Wasting time is the difference between mindless drifting and taking intentional action. It’s usually quite easy to tell the difference, but the best way to ensure that your action is intentional is to write it down. Writing down your next action forces you to bring your intentional powers into play. As I’ve mentioned often in the past, one of the ways I used to get people out of a state of mental paralysis and back into focus was simply to write a task down - any task - do it, then write another task down and do that. That in fact is the simplest form of No List system. If you find yourself wasting time, the easiest way out of it is to use this exercise.

It’s also the reason that I encourage people who are using a Long List system to put all their trivial tasks on it as well as the more serious stuff. These means you are always acting intentionally, rather than just drifting. Even if you are spending time picking the easy tasks, it is better than drifting - and it is much easier to pick up the serious stuff once your energy has replenished itself.

So remember:

Write it down! 

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