I think this is probably the millionth time someone has commended me on my work ethic only to glance at my screen and see that I’m playing Tetris.
Or Dawn of War.
Or Civilization 4.
Dear Uncool Self: you should really have a hot-key set up to cover whatever game you happen to be playing so that when people walk by this doesn’t happen. Like, hit Command + 4 and a spreadsheet pops up or something. What looks productive? Maybe an email window?
But what if I’m not connected to the Internet? Shit, Uncool Self, get on this.
The thing is, I actually don’t fall prey to this beast of non-productivity very frequently. It’s just that when I do there always seem to be people around to judge me.
It’s not just the games, either.
They usually find me sipping a Sugar-Free Red Bull, huge bag of Doritos open at my side, telltale orange powder covering my fingertips. If there’s not a game on my screen, it’s some TV show that I’ve been watching episodes of for the last two hours.
I probably got them from some illegal streaming site, too. It’s seriously all bad news.
Don’t look at me.
It’s just that people don’t usually see all the productive moments. I can whip out an entire eBook in an alarmingly short amount of time, and a blog post, from conception to presentation, usually doesn’t take more than a half-hour, tops. Client projects generally go at a fast clip, as well.
And these days I’ve made a very conscious effort to relax and to do things non-work-related more frequently. I walk around whatever city I’m in, learning streets and trying to get lost. I slow myself down so that my usually quick walk is instead a rolling saunter.
How can I expect people to walk in on me at the right time when so much of my day is, at least visually, unproductive?
Maybe I’ll keep a bottle of Adderall next to my computer while I’m goofing off? No, then they’ll think I’m trying to get high in addition to trying to beat my high score and increase my cholesterol. Shit.
The thing is, I probably shouldn’t even care whether or not people think I’m a busy person, but it’s been so ingrained in me it’s hard not to.
I come from a culture that values working late into the night, not having any time to bathe, much less eat, and that assumes anyone who isn’t working equally stringent hours must not be worth a damn.
This culture is, of course, that of the Entrepreneur. A noble people who unfortunately have learned more lessons than we’d like to think from our Corporate ancestors.
The irony is that we have escaped from the corporate culture only to (in most cases) create mini corporations with the same strengths and weaknesses as the ones we left (except that we’re in charge now, so we get to be the ones to frustrate those lower down the ladder…that is until they follow our lead and take off, continuing the cycle).
Among the inherited values we’ve brought with us from the cubicles and board rooms is the ridiculous prioritization of time-spent over value-achieved.
So here I sit, one hand digging around a Doritos bag for a choice morsel, the other hand click-clacking away at keyboard, looking for another episode of Project Runway, reminding myself that this state of being is a benefit that I’ve earned, not something to be ashamed of.
Okay, well, maybe I should get a smaller bag next time. This is kind of ridiculous.
Update: December 2, 2016
Yeesh, I cringed a little reading this. I agree with the main point, but I stopped drinking energy drinks years ago, and eating Doritos and junk food like that soon after. I feel incredible, health-wise, as a result, but the thought of all those chemicals, and the quantities in which I consumed them? Visceral reaction.