Time wasters

I was inspired by Paul Graham's essay How to Lose Time and Money. In it, he talks about things that seem like work (they are not fun, you do them at the office) but which are actually a waste of time. Because they're not so obviously a waste of time like sitting in front of the TV all day during a weekday, one needs to take extra care of them.

I've definitely had days when I might as well have sat in front of a TV all day—days at the end of which, if I asked myself what I got done that day, the answer would have been: basically, nothing. I feel bad after these days too, but nothing like as bad as I'd feel if I spent the whole day on the sofa watching TV. If I spent a whole day watching TV I'd feel like I was descending into perdition. But the same alarms don't go off on the days when I get nothing done, because I'm doing stuff that seems, superficially, like real work. Dealing with email, for example. You do it sitting at a desk. It's not fun. So it must be work.

I suspect, as an employee, as one gets paid anyway, one doesn't take care of these things at all. I remember, at one employment, some mandatory software updates started installing themselves on my PC, that took one hour of my time when I couldn't log in or do anything. It didn't bother me much (in fact it was almost a good thing). But I'm not in that situation, I need to produce as much value for my customers per unit time as possible. Either so I can increase my rates as much as possible (as I am providing so much value), or so I can decrease them as much as possible (as I only need a certain amount of money per month to eat, and I can become cheaper than my competition.)

Incidentally, I sometimes think that sitting in front of the TV wouldn't just be equivalent to time-wasting tasks, it might even be preferable. In front of the TV there's a ceiling on how much money one can spend (a pizza or two..), at the office one might get the idea to invest in things like new equipment, new SaaS subscriptions sucking money from one every month, hire some employees, ...

So here is my current list of things I waste time on, which I hereby resolve to waste less time on in 2014:

This article is © Adrian Smith.
It was originally published on 10 Jan 2014
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