As a follow-up to my self examination in Being a Productive Animal, I’ve taken it upon myself to assemble a list of the activities I do in my free time separated by whether I consider them productive or unproductive. It may seem a simplistic bifurcation, but at the end of the day the productive activities are the ones I feel make me more complete of a human being (mentally or physically enhanced, more fulfilling), and the unproductive ones are, well, brain-draining. Of course I quite enjoy many of the unproductive activities, but that doesn’t mean that their net effect is constructive. I’ve also found in making this list that productive activities are not always chores, and there are quite a few leisure activities that can be, in my opinion, brain stimulating as opposed to passive.
My ultimate goal here is to force myself to do at least X productive activities per day and limit my unproductive activities to only a couple hours a week. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Brian’s Productive Activities
- Reading any book or audiobook
- Social time or correspondence with close friends
- Piano (playing, writing music, creative doodling)
- Independent programming projects/Project Euler
- Talking on the phone
- Personal hygiene
- Chess & Poker (only in conjunction with engaged learning)
- Cleaning apartment/doing dishes
- Creative writing
- Brainstorming startup/product ideas
- Learning a new skill
- Playing cards
- Taking a constitutional (walking, that is :))
- Watching a movie I’ve never seen
- Career advancing activities (interviews, updating resume, networking, etc)
Brian’s Unproductive Activities
- Watching any TV (even Game of Thrones)
- Reading the news
- Watching a movie I’ve seen before
- Arguing about politics
- Listening to standup comedy
- Social media (Facebook, Twitter)
- Computer, video or mobile gaming
- Browsing the internet aimlessly (reddit, Wikipedia, YouTube, etc)
- Eating junk food
- Hacker News (exception for participating in intelligent comment threads)
- Large social gatherings/small-talk in general
This list is obviously personal to me, but speaking with some friends I have found a lot of common themes (watching TV is a big one for a lot of people).
What would you add to your list?