Narek posted the following comment that made me realize that the focus of this blog might encourage people to shift the work life balance to the extreme side of work:
It’s sad that you consider everything in life must be done productively.
“Wasting Time in the Car — Subscribe to podcasts and get a connector for your MP3 player in your car. Spend your time learning instead of just sitting there driving.”
That’s what pushed me over the [edge].. dude you just got to relax, just because something you are doing isn’t making your life more productive doesn’t mean it’s a waste of time.
Sometimes it is nice to just drive around to get out of the house or relieve stress. Listening to music in the car isn’t a waste of time either. Get a life, buddy.
Narek is right about one thing. I do want to do pretty much everything as productively as possible. When I work, I want to accomplish as much as I can in the shortest amount of time. When I relax, I want to really relax. I’m not focusing on being productive because work is the most important thing to me. I love my job, but I work so I can do other, more important, things.
When it comes to listening to audio while driving, let’s look at what I’m actually suggesting–that people take some of the time spent driving and use it to invest in themselves. By making yourself more valuable you should be able to spend less time working each year to derive the same monetary benefit.
Here is my personal example:
For the past 5 to 7 years, I’ve spent about 2 hours per week listening
to spoken audio. (This almost seems trivial compared to how much time
the average American spends watching television.) That means over the
past 5 years I’ve listened to about 500 hours of lectures, books,
technical discussions, etc. To put that in perspective, a Master’s degree usually requires 400 to 500 hours of listening to lectures. And all I had to invest was time spent on long drives (when I
usually get bored anyway) and while exercising (I spend a lot more time
in the gym when I’m listening to something interesting).
As a consultant, I am selling two things. My intelligence and my knowledge. I am of only average intelligence, so to justify my hourly rate, I have to invest in acquiring and keeping my knowledge current .
The enjoyable two hours I spend listening each week helps to keep me up-to-date in my areas of expertise.
Since my knowledge is up-to-date and continually growing, I can charge a much higher premium as a consultant than the average employee. This allows me to spend less time working and more time doing other things I enjoy.
In the past 6 months, I have spent more time vacationing than most people will in two years. I often work fewer hours than some people spend just on their commute.
To me, this is being productive. I get to work less and play more. Part of what lets me do this is the time I spend learning while driving and exercising.
I still have a lot of bad habits that waste time or get me distracted on things that aren’t really important, but I am making progress. For me, what is most exciting is seeing that my investment in personal
development over the past 10 years starting to pay off in terms of productivity–which means more free time to spend with people I love and do things that I really care about.
So yes, I do have a life–and the more I invest in my personal productivity, the richer it becomes.
Edit: RAS pointed out some problems with my original comparison to lecture time in a bachelors degree. I have revised it to compare with something where I more recent experience.