How to Allow Yourself Downtime Without The Soul-Wrenching Guilt of Unproductivity

Caitlin Taylor
5 min readMar 1, 2020

“You are wasting your life! This is not how you get ahead!”

…is what my brain shouts as I toss the couch blanket over my SO and I as we pick up where we left off on last night’s show. Last week was The Witcher. This week, we’re diving into Samurai Cat — which is exactly as silly as it sounds.

In 2018, the average American watched just under six hours of video per day, according to TechCrunch. In contrast, the average American only spends 45 to 60 minutes on social media per day.

Despite my personal daily video stats clocking in between 1 and 3, I feel soul-crushing guilt for every minute that it isn’t just background noise.

But — and here’s the big catch — it’s a great way to spend time with my SO. Particularly with streaming services that let us pause to dissect the cinematography, the plot, or the writing. It’s our time to be together after we finish the business of daily life.

Idle Hands Do The Devil’s Work

Or so I read somewhere. In my case, I can’t move past idleness leading to guilt that I’m not min-maxing my life.

Television is the quintessential definition of idleness. Idle hands lead to bad mental places.

But I’m not going to give up those few precious hours with my partner.

The question becomes not of stopping the Netflix routine but how to make it productive. In the spirit of millennial self-optimization, there must be some way to either alleviate the guilt or to get something done so we can min-max our lives.

This is not one of those “things to do while watching TV” lists. (Although folding laundry is a great option.) Adding chores on top of guilt is not a solution.

Busy Hands

When I’d stay with my grandma as a kid, she would give all of the grandkids small latch hook kits we could work on while we visited for part of summer break. Looking back, it was a great way to keep 4 kids entertained and happily sharing the video games. We’d trade off the controller, and the others would still have their hands busy in addition to backseat driving.

Latch hook, if you are unfamiliar, is knotting yarn onto a canvas grid. Anything you do in this yarn-based craft is physically-realized…

Caitlin Taylor

Ghostwriter and blogger for businesses all over the world.