Do you feel pressured to fill every moment of time with a useful activity?
Me too. In fact, as I started thinking about how wasting time could be beneficial to my creative process, I made the bed in our guest room. The clean sheets had been sitting on a chair there since early January when my father visited.
Apparently, I waste time by doing necessary chores.
This isn’t surprising. I spend each evening watching television [wasting time] while knitting wedding gifts due in the spring and summer [productive time!]. My weekend “off” time gets devoted to baking and cooking for the household, the aforementioned knitting, and laundry and cleaning chores.
Of course, I also use wasting time in its most traditional sense, to calm my brain and help it switch from one state to another. For example, I usually wake up early in the morning, like 5am early, but my body rebels with nausea and fatigue if I rise before 6. Well, I spend that time reading books that I’d never otherwise allow myself. Cozy mysteries and epic fantasies. Nonfiction on subjects such as the “Code Girls” who decrypted enemy communications in the twentieth century or the food and bathroom habits of astronauts. Those few minutes spent reading help my brain to wake up and get ready to work.
Alternatively, when I’m done for the day, I give myself 10-15 minutes on social media. Scrolling, clicking, and laughing at memes for that short time moves me from action into relaxation and starts my descent into sleepytown.
But truly, I do believe that wasting time creatively, by which I mean doing something creative that has no use or bearing on my life in any other way, makes the space for alternate connections, for thinking differently, for asking those questions that never get answered. This belief began to form as I read “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy” by Jenny Odell.Because of these factors (and because February is my birthday month!), I’ve decided to spend a little time each day-ish wasting time creatively. The thought of spending any time in this manner makes me catch my breath with fear, so I’m going to start with just fifteen minutes of doing something creative that doesn’t connect with my goals in any way. My first thoughts include:
Color in a coloring page I find online
Playing with the toys on my desk
Making a collage with images from the greeting cards I hoard
Finding new ways to use my shimmering bead collection
Write a silly poem