I find myself at one of my favorite coffee shops in Chiang Mai almost every single day.
I usually spend 3-4 hours at the coffee shop, between lunch and my mid-afternoon workout session.
Most of that time is spent writing and performing all of the ancillary tasks related to writing and blogging (research, emails, comments, editing, etc.).
My productivity since relocating to Chiang Mai, Thailand as a dividend expat has been off the charts. I’ve never felt more inspired, enthusiastic, energetic, or productive than I do right now. And that’s what allows me to produce so much content, all while also helping various coaching clients march closer to financial independence. To wit, I wrote my most recent best-selling book, 5 Steps To Retire In 5 Years, in less than a week.
But I sometimes find myself getting lost in various articles and videos that have nothing to do with productivity. In fact, some of my time is spent in a very non-productive manner.
And it’s glorious.
- I’ll spend 30 minutes watching a video on biking culture in Amsterdam.
- I’ll read a lengthy article on Tom Brady’s intense dedication to his craft.
- I’ll go through various Wikipedia articles on obesity, auto deaths, and long-term global economic trends.
- I’ll watch a video on skyscraper projects throughout the world.
- I’ll listen to Bill Gates speak about saving lives and how that potentially impacts overpopulation.
- I’ll check out scientific reports on genetics.
- I’ll read about Elon Musk’s latest venture in boring, space travel, or energy.
- I’ll watch a presentation on the concepts and physics of living inside of a multiverse.
- I’ll read Ray Dalio’s primer on UBI.
- I’ll read various Marcus Aurelius writings on stoicism.
- I’ll listen to song after song being streamed into my ears.
So on and so forth.
There’s something insanely pleasurable about just getting lost in information and content.
Warren Buffett says he likes to spend most of his days just reading.
He’ll read books and articles about… well, almost everything. For hours and hours on end.
And I can now see why he enjoys structuring his time like this. It’s fascinating and fun. And you could easily find yourself looking at a watch or a clock only to find that you’ve spent hours – many, many moments – getting lost in information. Knowledge compounds like interest. It’s awesome to have that bank of information that you can withdraw from, adding value to your life and the lives around you.
While you could certainly argue it’s not “wasting moments”, there’s nothing productive (or even particularly helpful or relevant to my life) about how I structure many moments throughout my days. Buffett no doubt takes in plenty of information that can be directly tied/helpful to the company he runs, but I’ll often find myself consuming content that literally has nothing to do with anything else I’m doing.
That said, there’s value and enjoyment to be found in being busy not being busy.
Fostering creativity can happen through the process of simply collecting thoughts and letting oneself be free of any demands to produce or do much of anything else in the moment.
The pursuit of knowledge, while not necessarily productive in terms of output, is extremely valuable in the sense of bettering yourself and improving the human condition.
The thing is, though, I didn’t have so many opportunities to do this back when I still worked a full-time job.
Spending 50+ hours per week at the dealership severely limited my resources, meaning I felt constantly rushed and under pressure to make every moment count.
There were the workouts that had to be completed. The blog articles that had to be written. The food that had to be prepared and eaten. The clothes that had to be cleaned. The shower that had to be taken. The sleep that had to obtained.
I felt “under the gun” to complete tasks as fast as possible, remaining at a high level of productivity in almost every facet of my life. I was constantly “on the clock”.
Eat fast. Shower quickly. Get this done. Make that happen. Go, go, go.
If I ever found myself wasting moments, I’d feel guilty and have to cut it short.
It was stressful to think and live this way.
Actually, it was borderline miserable.
No longer having that feeling in the pit of my stomach has done wonders to my mental and physical condition, with the move abroad only magnifying the effects.
Many moments are now wasted. And there’s not an ounce of care on my part.
I found myself eating at a local night market the other day.
I enjoyed a healthy portion of food for a couple bucks. I listened to some music. I watched the people moving to and fro.
And then I just… sat there.
I wasted moments just looking around. I felt the breeze hit my skin. I looked up at the night sky, seeing the stars wink back at me. I took in the smell, sounds, and sights. There was no purpose in any of it, other than to just enjoy the time passing by.
More moments were wasted when I came home from the gym not too long ago.
Instead of immediately hitting the elevator to get to my apartment, I took a detour to the pool. I took a seat. And then I spent around 15 minutes just sitting there, drinking in the view, and feeling the time slip away from me.
There’s something really wonderful about being able to do this.
But we often don’t have time to do this, because we don’t make time to do this.
We cannot have time unless we make time.
And we can’t waste moments unless we first own those moments.
Now, I’ll quickly note that I don’t mean “waste” as in one doesn’t enjoy these moments. Rather, I’m using the word in the sense that these moments are not productive. And that’s part of the pleasure and appeal.
I’ve often written that there’s nothing worth owning more than one’s own time. No physical possession could ever be worth more than time. No luxury is as luxurious as being able to control your own schedule.
Well, owning your own time gives you the opportunity to spend and use it however you wish.
While it’s wise and prudent to allocate that time intelligently, there’s something to be said for occasionally making a wasteful withdrawal from your huge bank of time. There’s something sweet about basking in the glory that is life itself. It’s worthwhile to sit back and wonder, ponder, marvel, and even laugh about our own insignificance.
There’s something truly special about being able to waste a moment.
What do you think? Ever waste a moment? How does it feel?
Thanks for reading.
P.S. If you’re interested in becoming financially independent so that you, too, can occasionally waste moments, check out the fantastic list of resources that personally helped me achieve financial independence in my early 30s!