Is it time to go to the pub now?

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.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

2 Responses to “Is it time to go to the pub now?”

  1. Anna says:

    I very much agree.

    When I first started university, I always turned down invitations to parties, picnics, gigs etc – because I had to ‘study’. But I would just stay at home procrastinating anyway. I decided one day that enough was enough. I would go to everything I wanted to go to, and study in any minutes I had spare. I didn’t even end up doing less study. In fact, I probably did more!

    Nowadays, when I’m at work, I work, when I clean, I throw myself into it with gusto, when I’m on the train I look out the window and at the other people, when I call the day off (I do that often) I play and enjoy the company of my friends, cook, walk and potter, and when I put aside a few hours to study, I study! It’s much more fun that way and you don’t get the horrible pangs of guilt that procrastination causes.

  2. You got it right, I think.

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