What is Waste of Intellect?

Think Cofee. This image is CC0!

My first example for intellect waste comes from the waiting waste section. I hope you like the others as well.

  • If you have a to-do list which is so long that you organize it an hour a day, you use a lot of your brainpower to manage waste, which should not be there in the first place.
  • Unproductive meetings and discussions are waste of intellect (not to be confused with explicit social gatherings, where the value is the gathering).
  • Quarreling with your spouse about minor matters is waste, no matter who started. As my father used to say “OK, you’re right, and I’ve got my peace. Let’s get on.” might be a good option instead.
  • Sleeping in school is waste of intellect.
  • Training courses which give you no new insights are waste.
  • Training courses you cannot apply to life or job are waste of intellect.
  • Reading can be a big contributor to waste of intellect.

The last one may sound a little contradictory, since you are reading this right now. Besides, writing and reading are accepted as a highly important cultural technique. However, it really depends on what you read.

Consider high-gloss  magazines, e.g. about computers, photography equipment, fashion, cooking, or DIY projects. The whole intention of these magazines is to create desires, not to fulfill desires. Or what do you think all the ads in those magazines are for? Some magazines seem to add real value. Watch out, it may be that the editors set up a value trap for you in which they have fallen themselves.

With TV and the Internet, the situation is basically the same. I want to make two exemptions. Pure fun stuff like novels or movies is OK if you really enjoy it. Textbooks, training material, manuals, and how-to documentation are OK if you need the information provided[1].

Measuring waste of intellect is really difficult. I suggest to use people hours not used to create value. In business, you might want to multiply this with the cost per hour. For example, if you have a meeting of five people, which ends without any tangible result. If that meeting took an hour, that is five hours waste of intellect. If you sit three hours in front of the TV, zapping the channels every five minutes and not really enjoying it, that is three hours wasted intellect. Do not be too hard on yourself with that: sometimes enjoyable waste is the value. Any hour used for management of other waste without sufficiently reducing it is waste.


[1] Instead of commenting myself on religious, spiritual, alternative healing, or similar literature, I suggest you read Richard Dawkin’s “The God Delusion” and Edzard Ernst’s and Simon Singh’s “Trick or Treatment”. Dawkins does a more convincing rant than I could do and the two others bust alternative healing myths scientifically. As I onmy About Page, Lean Self is holistic but rooted in the here and now.

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