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Regenerative Breaking: How to Slack Off Productively

Bike goes up the hill, USES batteries. Bike goes down the hill, CHARGES batteries.

Diagram of regenerative braking in an electric bicycle.

You’ve probably heard the term “regenerative breaking” before. It refers to a mechanism on hybrid cars that captures the friction energy produced during braking and uses it recharge the car’s batteries.

Before the invention of regenerative braking, everything was a battery drain in electric cars; every moving part cost energy. Now, some movement is used to re-cycle energy back into the car without affecting the driver’s experience at all. From the drivers perspective, he’s just accelerating and stopping as normal, yet for a reason invisible to him he is experiencing substantially better mileage-per-charge.

Compare this regenerative breaking notion to your slack-off time at work. You may tell yourself that you need to slack off “just a little” to recharge, but usually it just makes you more ADD, less productive, and overall less satisfied with your own ability to accomplish things. Wouldn’t it be nice if your slack-off (“break”) time actually helped you? If it actually strengthened your attention span and work ethic instead of eroding them? And if it did all that without you being any wiser (as in, while it still felt like you were slacking off)?

Quitting Adderall will increase your tendency to slack off (duh)

When you quit Adderall, compulsive slacking off can become a big problem for you. With no happy pill to keep you in super-worker-drone mode, your mind is going to wander and crave pleasurable activities in ways that you haven’t been accustomed to in years (depending on how long you were on Adderall).

This reactivation of your unavoidable craving for things that you actually enjoy doing is one of the big reasons why quitting Adderall can lead you back to your core passions. Long term, you need follow these natural interests to a job that you love so much that the job itself almost feels like slacking off because you enjoy it. Confucius say: “Man who loves his job never works a day in his life.”

But short term, you’re going to have to maintain some decent level of productivity at your day job, even if you hate it.

And even in a job you love, there’s still going to be some slacking. It’s pretty much unavoidable.

The “bad kind” of slack-off breaks

Here are some examples of slack-off activities, in order of increasing severity…

  1. Checking news websites
  2. Reading frivolous gossip articles
  3. Facebook
  4. Reddit/Digg (moreso Reddit)
  5. StumbleUpon (If you don’t know, do not ask. Trust me, for the sake of your day. It’s like the Pandora’s Box of unproductivity)

Now, you could argue that some good things come out of the above activities. For example, checking news sites keeps you informed about what’s happening the world. Frivolous gossip articles teach you tricks on how to please your man/woman. Facebook keeps your social life buzzing, and Reddit/StumbleUpon can lead to some information that really changes your perspective on something or teaches you something new.

That’s the idealized version of those activities. The reality is that for the most part all of these slack-off activities are directionless and circular. They bring you nothing but impulsive and temporary amusement. They do nothing for you long-term. The do not help you move forward towards your goals, and using them can become so addictive and compulsive that it drastically reduces your attention span.

Worst off all, slacking breeds slacking. The more you slack off, the more you will want to slack off.

How to slack off (take a break) in a way that moves you forward, and ultimately leads to more productivity

When you quit Adderall, you’re probably going to be very self-conscious about your productivity levels. You’re so used to being hyper-productive on Adderall that the notion of slacking off and being under-productive is emotionally painful to you. You know that work and productivity are virtuous. You know you need to be a more productive, better worker. So you try to force it. You try to grunt and clinch your teeth and will yourself into working harder, into fighting through that overwhelming sense of how bad this sucks and how much you hate it.

This willpower applied to working harder is good to a great extent. But it is seldom maintainable.

In my opinion, the key to being more productive is not working harder; it’s slacking-off less.

All you need from your slack time is happy juice and a sense of impulsive fun; time that is your own amidst all the time during which your brain belongs to your employer. You can get the nearly same buzz by working on your passions and goals as an act of slacking off.

Here’s what I mean.

I used to have a lot of bookmarks to all my slack-off sites (reddit.com, etc). Whenever I found my work to unpleasant, I’d pull up my bookmarks and start clicking through them. One of the best things I ever did for my productivity was replace these impulsive, brain-numbing bookmarks with other bookmarks to my blogs and my writing projects.

Now, whenever I feel the need to slack off, I click my bookmark tab as usual, except now instead of all my slack sites I see all of my personal pet projects. It instantly reminds me of what my long-term goals are and of my commitment to work on them whenever I feel like slacking off.

So instead of clicking “reddit.com” when I have the urge to slack off, I might click quittingadderall.com/admin. And I’ll sit there for a moment and think of something little I want to do. Maybe I just add a link to my blogroll that I’ve been meaning to add. Maybe I’ll make an adjustment to the template graphics. Maybe I’ll start writing notes for a new post. Maybe I’ll get sucked in and write an entire new post.

The point is, I’m moving one of my passions forward during my slack time. I replace circular slacking with directional slacking.

You’ll be surprised how easy it is to make this change, because you get to pick (impulsively) what you work on, so in many ways it still feels like slacking off (being impulsive).

It will only take you a day of doing this to realize the benefits. Normal slacking off puts you at idle, so when you return to normal work it’s hard to start your brain back up again. Directional slacking lets you touch your natural passions, which recharges your battery, resets your perspective, and makes it easier to return to your normal work with a better attitude, energy, and clarity about what’s important. This effect is what led me to the “regenerative braking” analogy at the top of this article.

As an extra bonus, this will actually make you more productive all around (e.g., at your day job) because working breeds working. You feel like you’re slacking off, but you’re actually boosting your work ethic. It’s awesome.

Try it. One day, decide that you’re going to get through the whole day without slacking off in the traditional sense. Whenever you feel like slacking, do anything productive instead. Example: On my first day trying this, I replaced playing games on my cell phone while waiting in lines to playing Spanish language quiz exercises on my cell phone while waiting in lines. I was still just dicking around on my cell phone to pass the time, but now I was learning something while I’m doing it.

Basically, you’re replacing this old process…

  1. Work
  2. Feel bored/unfulfilled
  3. Browse news/gossip/game websites
  4. Space out into Slackoff Land
  5. Eventually feel a dull sense of obligation to get back to work
  6. Begrudgingly start dragging yourself through your work
  7. Secretly wish you were still slacking.
  8. Fuck this job. Fuck your life.

With this better, more productive new process…

  1. Work
  2. Feel bored/unfulfilled
  3. Work on one of your personal projects
  4. Start feeling passionate and energized
  5. Come to a little stopping point where you’ve made progress
  6. Go back to your normal work with a smile on your face, a sense of accomplishment, and re-focused perspective on what’s important.
  7. Feel more capable at doing your normal work because you’re happier and perkier now.
  8. This job’s not so bad. Totally doable. Just need to keep pepped up.

Final notes…

  • It helps to apply the biblical “cut off the hand that sins” concept here (like I did when I deleted my slack-off bookmarks).
  • You’re probably going to fall off the wagon a few times when the novelty of this wears off. Oddly though, it’s been an easy wagon to get back on for me, because it’s such clearly superior way to go about my day. Hope you have the same experience!

Photo Credits

9 Responses to “Regenerative Breaking: How to Slack Off Productively”

  1. Tyler says:

    I’m glad you stay focused on your writing because you truly are talented. It is genuine and easy to relate to. I am guilty of circular slacking at times and you are right when you say that slacking breeds slacking. Nothing compares to the feeling of accomplishment and purpose though! With ADD it can be tough to stay committed to a new project that sounded AWESOME during the “idea” stage, but using the methods in this post will make it easier to follow through with your dreams.

  2. Mike says:

    Thanks, Tyler! Glad you liked it!

    Incidentally, this point you made…

    With ADD it can be tough to stay committed to a new project that sounded AWESOME during the “idea” stage

    …inspired tomorrow’s post. So just know that you were responsible when you see it. 🙂

  3. Tyler says:

    Thanks Mike! I’m reading Passion vs. Self-Disciple right now. This site is a great resource. My new year’s resolution was to stop taking adderall and while it was rough at first, I feel so much better now.

    It is almost as if I forgot what it was like to feel human since taking adderall everyday made me feel like a robot. I’ve rekindled my love for food, friends, sex, exercise, etc. I now realize I am much more creative without it and just as CAPABLE.

    Anyways, keep up the great work. Reading this site is one of the reasons I finally decided to put an end to my adderall habit. It helped inspire me to find the courage to face my reality and do what I know needed to be done. My advice to anyone trying to quit is to ease yourself into an exercise routine and stick with it. It will keep you focused on feeling healthy instead of thinking about taking a pill. You’ll also start to feel better about yourself, more confident, and less anxious. I know if I took adderall again I wouldn’t see the results I want in the gym because it kills the desire to exercise, eat, etc. and who wants to work out with a heart thats already in overdrive? Become reunited with yourself!

  4. Lizzie says:

    Great post! I found that when I feel unmotivated that in reality I was just waiting for the energy/motivation to come first, which never happened. I realized that I needed to consider thinking of it differently.

    I figured that if I want to get the energy, that I just needed to start and that the energy to do it would come later and it worked! 🙂

    I guess the body naturally tries to conserve energy. So if you just sit there, your energy decreases. If you start doing things even with low energy levels, the body catches on and helps increase your energy. 🙂

    Like if you want to build muscles, you exercise FIRST, then the body builds muscle. If you want to build motivation/energy levels, then you do things FIRST, and the body increases energy/motivation.

    Just thought I would include this in case anyone quitting is struggling with post-adderall energy slumps. 🙂

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  6. Danyelle says:

    wow woman, these are so amazing! you are so tneeatld!! and it helps when you have such beautiful people to photograph too LOVED THESE SO MUCH!! GOOD JOB WOMAN!!

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