Have you ever had that realization that, when asked “How are you doing?”, the only responses you can think of are how much progress you made on a project this week or how far along you are in writing the latest draft of your dissertation or major paper? If yes, has this been followed by the revelation that your ability to talk about all other subjects has become rusty from disuse?
The other day, a friend was explaining to me how, while out on a date night with her husband, she came to the uncomfortable realization that she had very little to talk about that didn’t involve her children, what they were learning, what they’d done that day, or something funny the oldest child had said over lunch. I can appreciate the feeling — there have been moments when I realized that all I could think to talk about are the queries I received that day, how low morale has sunk at the office, and my plans to revamp the library system when I win the lottery. Botheration, I’d think, I’ve become boring and I no longer have anything interesting to say.
Research has demonstrated that short breaks can increase overall productivity. Next time you take a break, instead of playing Angry Birds, try Sporcle. Sometimes, playing ten rounds of Angry Birds feels relaxing, but at other times, it can seem too mindless and not fulfilling. Using Sporcle, one could instead spend five minutes matching countries and flags, identifying elements of the periodic table from their symbols, and determining which lines of dialogue come from Space Balls and which come from Star Wars, which can feel like time well (or better) spent.
Sporcle has the appropriate tagline “Mentally Stimulating Diversions”, which seems very appropriate. Use of Sporcle will not bring you any closer to finishing that paper or blog post you’re supposed to be writing or knocking items off your lengthy to-do list. However, when combined with self-control, it can provide a few much-needed minutes of entertainment that won’t leave you feeling as though you’ve killed brain cells unnecessarily. You didn’t waste time, you tested your general or subject-specific knowledge and improved the likelihood that you, too, will have what it takes to more successfully compete in pub quizzes.