Wordle — Good Use of Time or Productivity Killer?
How to be Productively Unproductive
Did my Wordle today. Meh…got it in 5. I’m usually a 4 or 5 guy, so par for the course.
I’m a bit caught up in the craze, like many of you. I don’t cheat (what’s the point), nor share on social media (not that I wouldn’t, I just don’t care), and I blow 10 minutes a day at most. I feel a little pang of disappointment if I don’t get it and a little hit of pride if I do.
But the question is, “Is Wordle a good use of my time?”
Is it robbing me of productivity, or is it possibly helping my productivity? Is it a harmless little distraction or an indicator of something more sinister?
Physical Recovery is A Model
You already know how to get better physically: cycles of work plus rest and recovery.
Today you run five hard miles, and then you rest until tomorrow or the next day. You do a killer leg workout and then let your legs recover before doing it again.
You push hard and then rest — progress.
It’s during these blessed rest and recovery periods, including sleep, that your body does the behind-the-scenes work to rebuild muscle fibers, restore fluids, and generate more proteins. If you don’t rest enough, you won’t make progress. If you don’t rest at all, you will regress.
The rest periods are just as important as the work periods.
I know from my own experience that if I’m trying to build up to a new distance or get faster running, I must plan sufficient recovery periods and space out my running work sets across a week according to that plan. And, occasionally, every couple of months, I take a whole week or more off of running. When I do, the next time I jump back in, I am usually fresher and faster.
Physical rest is productively unproductive time for your body.
You Need Mental Rest
Like physical training, psychologists believe our minds respond similarly to cycles of engagement and rest. Mental engagement such as focus, learning, thinking, and creativity requires reciprocal mental rest, or else our mental faculty stagnates and ultimately wanes.
When you find the proper cyclical balance of mental expenditure and rest, your productivity, energy, and ability to focus increase. You become more efficient, and the more efficient you are, the more time you have.
And that’s what we all want, right? More time.
Mental rest is just as important as physical rest, but there’s a catch: what is helpful mental rest? What’s the difference between restful distraction and malicious distraction?
You know good physical rest because you immediately feel it, or you performed better today than you did last week. Good mental rest can be a little harder to discern because of the Instant Gratification Monkey. We are good at lying to ourselves about distractions and procrastination.
Doomscrolling through social media.
Diving down the YouTube hole.
Sucked into the game.
“My mind needs a break. I’m just resting.”
You might be, but you might just as easily be hindering your future productivity and stealing your own time.
How can you best be productively unproductive for your mind?
Two Kinds of Mental Rest
Elwood: What kind of music do you usually have here?
Claire: Oh, we got both kinds. We got country AND western.
Unlike the music in Bob’s Country Bunker, not all mental rest is the same.
The Right Kind:
- Keeps your mindset positive
- Restores creativity
- Readies the mind for focus
The Wrong Kind:
- Stokes a negative mindset
- Stifles creativity
- Keeps your mind from focusing
Subjectivity plays a role, and if you’re honest with yourself, you know what distractions are the right kind for you.
Here are some things that work best for me:
- Exercise — preferably outside and intense
- Prayer / meditation
- Checking off the mindless activities on the ToDo list, such as setting appointments, calling someone back, etc
- Personal development — inspiration, motivation, skill development, etc
Here are some things that suck the life out of me:
- Sports radio
- Talking heads and condescending pricks
- Mainstream news
- Scrolling through social media
Not All Games (Distractions) are Created Equal
Yes, but what about Wordle? (Damn it, I came here to know if I should stop playing Wordle. Get to the point.)
Wordle is a distraction, but is it productively unproductive, or is it stealing your time? To make that decision, let’s compare it to another distracting and popular game — Candy Crush.
Wordle is designed to engage you for no more than 10 minutes once per day.
Candy Crush is designed to keep you engaged for as long as it can — leveling up, time-based rewards, level-based rewards, scaling difficulty, etc.
The Wordle screen contains zero distractions such as advertisements.
Candy Crush is constantly showing you advertisements.
Wordle has no business model nor any way to extract money from you.
Candy Crush IS a business. As such, it is always trying to extract money from you.
Wordle doesn’t care whether you do it or not.
Candy Crush advertises all over the internet in order to suck you in.
See where this is going?
Is Wordle a Good Use of Time?
Your mind needs a break just as your body does, so its important to give it some rest. However, its important to give it the right kind of rest. The goal is productively unproductive.
Wordle is designed to keep you engaged for about five minutes. Candy Crush is designed to keep you engaged infinitely.
Here’s my recommendation:
Keep doing your daily Wordle. But delete Candy Crush.