The work of a wastrel
When I first decided to dedicate myself to idleness, I did so for all the right reasons but in all of the wrong ways. I was loafing about day after day, not really amounting to much and missing out on some of life’s greatest pleasures. In spite of the obvious physical and psychological damage caused by jobs, the human soul needs work, but the work of a wastrel should feel more like productive play. It’s the kind of work that makes us better people.
The truth is that money is holding us back from what we would really like to do, and in order to make money we often find ourselves spending most of our waking hours engaged in other peoples’ affairs, committed to the wants and desires of our employers rather than those of ourselves. I don’t really have the education or the will to discuss the inequity and absurdity of the system that employs some of the people all of the time while many people are underemployed; but for the individual, the ideal end-state is to be employed on a more human schedule.
The five-day, 40-hour work week sucks our souls and beats us down. Monday morning is rightfully dreaded as the day freedom ends, and by the time Friday rolls around, the employee is so exhausted from trying to balance a fruitful social life with a productive work life that it takes him or her precisely two days to recover. If you remember my post on the staycation, you might recall my proof that the third (or maybe fourth) day a person has to themselves is the most productive time they will ever experience. This is because, having recovered from their previous stint of work, a fully recharged person (body and soul) is prepared to tackle the next task. When the mind is free to choose those tasks, the person is most fulfilled with the results.
So the trick is to work more fervently, less frequently. Even if you can’t immediately free yourself from the shackles of an employer, reappropriate the 40 hour work week to allow yourself to fully recover from the work you do. Take these few easy steps to start yourself on the right path:
1. Force yourself to adhere to absurd deadlines
Did your boss just give you three days to finish a project that you can wrap up in one? Sign up for Pinterest and use the first two and a half days developing ‘cute cat‘ and ‘cupcake’ pin boards. When crunch-time rolls around, you can be certain that you will tackle the task with a renewed vigor and creativity that would not have otherwise been possible.
2. Hidden half-days
Schedule yourself a gambit of meetings every morning and let the conversation stray ridiculously off topic until it feels just like you’re at the pub. Though sneaking a pint in your coffee mug is usually a sign of a larger problem, don’t hesitate to treat yourself from time to time. Finish up the day’s work in the afternoon being sure to proclaim how many meetings you had that morning, and how much you need to catch up on.
3. Break early, break often
Showing up late and ducking out early, though wonderful, is the easiest way to have all of your colleagues resent you. Since every workplace is different, you may need to get creative here. Try staying an extra half hour every day so people see you as the type that always stays late. Use this office credibility to justify 15 minutes breaks every hour on the hour. (Except lunch of course. One should never, ever, take a break from lunch.) You’ll probably find that the extra half hour without distractions is enough to complete the tasks of an average workday.
None of this is to say don’t do good work. Like I said, the soul needs work. We need to feel productive. So do good work and feel good about it. If you aim for long, uninterrupted stretches of great, head-down productivity, you’ll work less, enjoy more, and really start reaping the benefits of the restful hours of idleness that you know you deserve.
Next time we’ll discuss “How to Take a Break From Taking a Break : A Sluggard’s Sabbatical.”