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The Fine Art Of Doing Absolutely Nothing

“Ben Hutchison, a seasoned professional at wasting time and getting absolutely no work done, offers some tips on how to steer clear of productivity over quarantine.” - Chiara Maurino

At some point between your second nap of the day and the fourth unwanted cup of tea, you inevitably stop and question where exactly this isolation is taking you.

A) On the stairway to self-discovery.

B) On the descent into social incapacity.

C) On the highway to familial disintegration.

D) Nowhere at all.

Your conclusion is invariably B, C or D.

(A is for social influencers, yoga instructors and Tom Hiddleston)

Good start. How, then, can you ensure that you maintain this trajectory and have achieved, once released back into social normality, nothing productive whatsoever?

Well, follow this simple but rigorous guide and watch yourself peacefully regress as a human being.

Lie in: Wake up at 11 inexplicably more exhausted than if for a nine am lecture, with none of the self-gratification of having attended. Conveniently, your mother has assumed the role of midday lecturer. Carpe diem and get your arse out of bed is her general message. Namaste to you too, Mother.

Wander around the house aimlessly - nothing too strenuous, mind.

Argue with an arbitrary family member over something trivial - that’ll eat away an hour or so.

‘Who drank all the juice?’ in an accusatory tone is a reliable initial provocation.

Humour your father by taking the time to look at a poorly formatted meme his personal trainer has sent him. He’ll watch to make sure you chuckle, which you do, obediently.

Do you miss the education, you wonder, or simply the company of friends?

It is not like your family is that bad. The only rotten apple in this household is you.

Ah, a zoom call this evening - that’ll keep spirits high. It doesn’t. Fruitless, wifi-hampered conversation ending with the enthusiastic promise of ‘same again next week’. You sigh, despairing, inwardly dreading the prospect of yet another quiz. Then, once again, you find yourself alone in your room, bereft of company but at peace.

Relief from pixely heads in boxes staring at you earnestly, at least for now.

At last, you can return to the brainless re-watching of Friends, guiltily skipping past your friend’s banal-looking recommendation on Netflix.

Repeat this cycle tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day.

This is the chance to revel in guiltless procrastination. Your life may be flickering before your eyes, but at least it’s on your terms. Lockdown may yet be intensified, they say. Our daily exercise allowances may be no more. We motivated ones tremble at the thought. But, this leaves more time to fill with your happy purposelessness.

At least reading this article has whittled some seconds away.

By Ben Hutchinson

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