How to stay home and do nothing
I’m not normally an advocate of productivity, but I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon over the past few weeks. The more time I dedicate to doing nothing, the more I get done. I find that if I plan all of my leisure activities, I can relax, socialize, and generally feel pretty good, but all of these planned activities bring me out of my home, where I (theoretically) have all of my favourite things and the greatest capacity to relax entirely. If I spend some time at home, I almost always do something awesome that makes my living space even better, and the best part is I feel better working on my own projects in my own space than I do pretty much anywhere else.
You’ve been there. I know it. You’ve started to feel a little bit resentful of the place where you sleep and prepare the meals you eat at work. You need a staycation.
There really isn’t a how-to guide for the perfect staycation, which is likely due to the staggering simplicity of the thing. You see, the first and perhaps only step to setting up yourself up for a great staycation is to plan nothing – for at least a week. Absolutely nothing: no dinner parties or golf games, not even a coffee date. This isn’t to say you can’t do these things, just don’t tie yourself to them. They will get in the way of doing what you really need to do: nothing, anything.
With this free calendar you will be able to enjoy countless hours of unplanned adventure. Maybe you’ll wake up and feel like baking a pie (probably not, but maybe) or building a remote-controlled beer cooler. How rotten would it be to waste the one time in your life where you actually feel like re-organizing your storage room because you scheduled an interview with a politician during a major election?
In lieu of a formal guide, then, I offer this: a rough schedule of parts of my latest staycation. Read, learn, imitate.
7:30: Woke up, felt pretty energetic because my girlfriend still had to work. Was pretty smug about it. Offered to drive girlfriend to work.
7:31: Reconsidered offer, tried to convince girlfriend that she should just drive herself to work.
7:32: Lost argument, no longer smug.
7:45: Got out of bed, drove girlfriend to her stupid work.
8:45: Returned from completely wasteful trip to Ottawa’s West end.
8:47-12:00: Got back in bed.
12:00: Made a pot of coffee. Drank it.
12:30-3:00: Either got back in bed or played a flash game online. It’s not important.
3:00: Realized intense hunger that only perogies could satisfy.
3:30: Returned to West end, stuffed myself with perogies.
5:00: Ate more perogies for dinner.
It get’s pretty dull after that. That’s probably because of the perogie-induced coma, but I assure you that this is the environment that best fosters creativity. Even though Day Two didn’t look a whole lot different (I didn’t make the same mistake of committing to an early rising), some strange things started happening on Day Three.
7:00: Became marginally aware of somebody in the room complaining about ironing or something.
8:00: Realized I could sprawl out over the whole bed, sprawled out over whole bed.
10:00: Drank coffee and ate a kick-ass bacon, egg, potato, and cheese thing for breakfast. There may have even been a smoothie involved. I know, right?
11:00: Cleaned up after myself.
11:30: Discovered wine, corkscrew.
11:31: Strategically employed available assets to capitalize on potential synergy.
11:31-12:30: Stared at ugly corner from whence wine bottle came, envisioned pretty wine rack.
2:00-2:30: Collected ingredients and tools – drill, jig-saw, power sander, lumber, hardware, good ideas.
2:30: Finished bottle of wine, started sawing wood and screwing it to other pieces of wood.
10:00: Marvelled: I had built a freaking wine rack.
10:30: Drank celebratory scotch before bed.
Without spending any more time on schedules, I’d like to explain this phenomenon. You see, it’s my theory that we are all generally good people who want to be productive. It’s a wild premise, I know, but it’s well-founded in early philosophy – which I suppose counts for something.
But wait! If we’re all good and want to be productive, why are people shitty and lazy? That’s a good question, and it would be silly of me not to answer it…
The structure of modern society is carefully constructed to ensure that people stay actively unproductive. From early years we are taught that being idle is wrong, but meaningless work that is poorly divided among a population is the norm. One full-time job may only require half of the actual work hours to complete its necessary tasks, and the job is given to only one person, when others are struggling to find employment. Unfortunately when part-time work is given, it is not usually accompanied by a living wage, and almost never with benefits like supplemental health or a pension.
So here I am, or there you are, working, probably slacking off a bit and feeling terrible about it, or sitting in a time-hole of a meeting. This causes those of us who are employed to spend most of our waking hours engaged in a great deal of work that doesn’t benefit us, or society. When we finish our work day we don’t really have much more “work” in us, so we sit down and get fat. The rest of us, who are not employed, don’t have the means to contribute, because it’s tough to be creative when you’re hungry.
We’re left with two segments of the population that are not really working to create a better world – one because they’re too busy doing not much, and the other because there’s not much to do.
Unless there is a major economic revolution just around the corner, the average day will probably continue be dedicated to the wrong kind of work. If you’re working for somebody else, the only way to rest yourself enough to become productive in your own way is to take time for yourself. Since you probably aren’t going to save up for a year worth of rent and groceries, why don’t you book yourself a staycation. You might even get a wine rack out of the deal.