Since far too much productivity advice these days seems to assume that productive work is all that matters in life, let’s be clear: “calling off the day” to go and join friends in the local beer garden – or to do anything else that’s similarly fun or enriching – is an actively good thing (providing it won’t get you fired). You should do it a lot. What you shouldn’t do is fail to make progress on what matters because of what it says on your wristwatch. Don’t head to the beer garden because you’re postponing the important stuff till tomorrow, in other words. Head to the beer garden because it’s important in itself.
Oliver Burkeman this week writes about the phenomenon of ‘calling the day off’. I do this too, and I’m sure many of the self-employed or self-motivated among you will have experienced the same phenomenon.
It’s 4pm, you’ve had a few aborted attempts at knuckling down, but you’re just not feeling the productivity vibe. So you call the day off and go to the pub.
I’ve started practicing an extreme version of this. Over time, I’ve learned to get a feel for what’s going to be a productive or non-productive day from the get-go, so now I give whole days over to skiving thoroughly, from the morning. Better that than waste half the day looking at a blinking cursor only to achieve nothing. I either throw myself into several hours of workflow with total gusto, or I cut my losses immediately and have a nice day.