Time wasting tips are a complete waste of time
BUSINESS LIFE:All my life I’ve had an intense and deeply troubled relationship with time. I can always tell you the time to the nearest 10 minutes without looking at my watch. I’m excessively punctual; as soon as I wake in the morning I take stock of how long I’ve been asleep, and I always have a firm idea of what I need to achieve each day and how long it ought to take. It may not be a great way to live. It is certainly not attractive. But there it is.
This does not mean, however, that I always stick to my plan of what I am meant to be doing. On the contrary, I waste at least as much time as anyone else. It just upsets me more.
As a result, I am always dreaming up new ways of trying to waste less of it. I have not played a single game of Freecell since I vowed solemnly to go on the wagon after a terrible binge about a year ago. But such strategies are pointless, as I just waste time on other things, mainly Twitter and eBay. I am currently bidding for two strange military wooden boxes, which I am praying I do not win as that would mean wasting even more time driving across London to pick them up.
Given my history, imagine how cheered I was recently to stumble on an article in the Harvard Business Review called “Building Resilience by Wasting Time”.
Slightly unpromisingly, it is written by Jane McGonigal, a woman who designs computer games – on which more time has been wasted than anything else. On Angry Birds alone the world is estimated to spend 300 million minutes a day, a number so high I feel upset even writing it.
Yet, according to McGonigal, it is not all a waste. Indeed, a small amount of time playing Angry Birds can make us more resilient. So too can looking at images of cute kittens and clicking our fingers repeatedly.
To reach this odd conclusion, she immersed herself in research from neuroscientists, doctors and psychologists and found that time-wasting can be good when it boosts us in one of four ways: physically, mentally, emotionally or socially.
The first way is easy. Getting up from our desks and going for a walk shakes us out of our physical torpor. Even I don’t hate myself when I do that.
More surprising is what she suggests for a mental boost: snapping our fingers exactly 50 times, which apparently increases willpower.