Over the last week or so I have taken some time off and not been as active on social media, my blog, and otherwise online as I had been previously throughout the year. This is not due to spending time planning for the year ahead, to reading books or to anything else that might be considered productive. In-fact I have spent at least a few days of the week or so off just engaged in watching TV box sets. The problem with this is that at various points in this period of “vegging out” I have found myself feeling guilty as to my inactivity.
Over the last year to date I have read a variety books about how to be effective, productive or how to get the best from myself or from the teams which I work with. This includes reading Andrew Cope’s Being Brilliant, Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle is the Way and Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit among others. Each of the books talks about how we tackle obstacles, build positive habits and generally work smarter. They are all about making the most of the limited resources in relation to time and also our limited cognitive resources. None of these books talk about vegging out in front of Game of Thrones for two or three days. It may be that this reading plays some part in my feelings of guilt. Clearly I am not making the best of my cognitive abilities or the time I have available to me if all I am doing is watching John Snow mount his defence of Winterfell. As a result I feel guilty for wasting my valuable resources. Clearly I should be doing something with my time.
My current reading of Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death however has got me thinking that maybe I need to reconsider the factors which lead me to feelings of guilt. Becker talks about a paradox of individuality versus our finite lifespan, and of thought versus body. Clearly most of my activities focus on thought, in planning, in writing and sharing thoughts, in working out how to make most of my time and resources and of putting into practice the outcomes of my thinking. I have built a habit of these efforts; how can I make best use of my time? How can I prioritize tasks? How can I ensure I get all tasks that need doing done? This habit then leads to the feeling of guilt when I try and break with the habit and sit and watch TV for hours on end. But what about what Becker refers to as body or what about a break from thought?
As I am not really a fitness focused person I think a break from thought as opposed to action focused on body or fitness aligns more with my priorities. Considering thought or our cognitive ability as being of limited resource might it not be necessary to provide this resource some respite occasionally? Might a person not feel re-energized following a period of rest from thought? Could it be that a limited period of vegging out might have a positive outcome?
As I return to the online sphere after a short break my guilt is the issue which worries me as opposed to the time spent sat watching the TV. The guilt indicates that internally I feel I shouldn’t be spending any significant time sat glued to the screen. Yet I enjoyed some time catching up on some TV. I felt relaxed. I felt at rest. Is a period of TV watching or similar vegging out just another luxury which in moderation has its place? At this point I would suggest it is and therefore hopefully when I next decide to sit down for a period of serial TV watching I may be able to do so and enjoy it more, devoid of feelings of guilt.
Do you have any time set aside for vegging out during the summer holiday period? Is it your guilty pleasure or just a big no no and a waste of time?