I've spent the last few days planning exciting stuff to do either on my own or with friends over the next few months, including booking a holiday in a cottage in Northumberland - no wi-fi, no tv. Just me. It links in with your other thread on reflection. It will be a week where I have time to just sit and think - and be happy existing, which in turn will lead me to think about other things I want to do and achieve.
I had an insight yesterday. I am at my lowest when I am not under several different types of pressure. In the last 2 years, I've:
Graduated with an MA
Ended a major relationship
Been seriously ill and recovered
Had my novel published
Started learning sign language
Split my time between my cottage and my flat
All of those things are either completed or ongoing (in the case of work and my split life). And I am at my most sluggish and demotivated. So, planning lots of things to do is part one of my efforts to refocus.
Nice work Bee. Those are significant things you have changed and been through. Many Olympians suffer depression after achieving their gold medal. They have spent their lives struggling towards their goal, leaving themselves directionless once achieved. Yet we can all be relentless in our progress. Instead of large rock sized goals, we have an infinite number of granular things we can improve.
Let me give you an example. Today I went to return some unused medication for my father to the pharmacy. I queued for over 20 minutes, despite my hand-over taking like 20 seconds. So, I will be adding to Supermemo, "Don't go to the pharmacy at midday!" "If there are 7 people in front of me, expected wait time is 20 minutes." "Use Google before going to the pharmacy to check graph for busiest times." To me, these are all little incremental life improvements that add up and compound over time. They may not be the "Rocks" but they do recur. Making life more frictionless is like battling the death by a thousand cuts that life can inflict on ones happiness.
Having a focused goal, a directed project of some sort, leads to doing more constructive things in an area that needs constructive attention. Having no particular good goal usually leads to no particular good result. It is a matter of human nature that we like to tinker. Even as kids we take things apart and hope that we can put them back together - or that Dad can do so for us. It is a matter of human nature to analyze and understand, but it sometimes goes wrong.
People cannot leave well enough alone. They tinker. The more free time they have on their hands, the more they tinker. This is part of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mantra, to stop people from tinkering on something that is working and to offer the corollary - if it is broke, fix it. When people tinker, sometimes they make things better. Sometimes they don't. The cartoon and TV sitcom meme about "Dad tried to fix the sink but we had to call the plumber to fix what Dad did" originates from this concept.
There is also the idea that adolescents who aren't busy doing homework or chores have time to play pranks on each other. They get into squabbles, sibling rivalry, or youth gangs. Which is why neighborhoods desperately want ways to put kids into organized sports so that they don't get into more organized but less law-abiding gangs.
I will point out that the "anti-idle" admonition in any of its forms is based on observation. Perhaps we don't know why it is true - but we have known it to be true for a long enough time that Chaucer wrote about it centuries ago.