Cheating At Solitare

The other night, I had a plan. A good plan. A productive plan. After my AA meeting, I was going to go downtown, fire up the laptop, finish a blog post I’ve been working on, tweak a few things on my laptop, set up some FTP access for a friend, and maybe catch some football on TV. But I did none of that. Instead, I had a cigar and enjoyed the football game with the other patrons. And in doing so, I came to a realization that had been gnawing at me for a while.

You need to turn ‘off’ the multi-tasking and networking from time to time.

Smoking cigars is something I do to relax and unwind. It’s somewhat of a carryover from the 15 years I smoked cigarettes (yes, I started smoking at age 10, and even worse I began again a few months ago.), some of it is tied to my father’s own cigar smoking, but mostly it’s a reason to sit down and decompress. Given that it takes a good 45 minutes to an hour to smoke a cigar, it’s almost as though I am mandating relaxation to myself.

So why do I want to include other work in it? I don’t, and I shouldn’t. While it’s OK to do something else from time to time, there’s a reason I need to relax in the first place. If I begin to incorporate other tasks into it, the meaning and purpose is gone.

There is always the push to always be ‘productive’. Whether it’s the non-stop data feeds of RSS and email, the numerous GTD posts, blogs, gurus, or just the fact that there are more things to do than time to do them, we often lose sight of relaxation. Relaxation IS productive, probably more so than half the things I do to ‘stay on top of things’. When I am in a situation that is calming and relaxing, I have a better chance of seeing through the problems and issues I may be facing at that time. I can allow all the half-thoughts to either complete themselves or filter there way out.

And most importantly, I can watch football.


Sam Karol December 7, 2009 at 12:50 pm

I’m really glad you wrote this post. There is so much pressure to be uber productive and become a master multi-tasker, and so many people who are constantly working. The thing is that we have to stop and refuel every once in a while, or else, our treasured productivity will suffer. Football is a great way to relax and unplug, because even if you’re yelling at the TV like a crazy person (see: me) at least you’re yelling about something you love. Thanks for the insight!

Royce December 7, 2009 at 3:50 pm

I agree generally with your last paragraph. I am not someone who has trouble finding time (or the inclination) to relax, but I find it useful to remind myself now and again to take a break if I’m too focused on work or other projects.

When I was in school I recognized that I performed MUCH better on a test if I blocked out 8 hours for sleep the night before the test, rather than cramming all night. That’s the same principle I apply to taking a break from work, personal projects, and intense hobbies. Typically reading or playing a video game in a quiet setting gets the relaxation job done for me.