Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Wise Use of Your Time

I find it interesting to consider the topic of whether or not some activity is a “waste of time.”

There are numerous articles on the Internet on the topic of what to do to prevent wasting your time. For example, Theresa Griffith wrote a short article titled "Top 20 Time Wasters and the Top 5 Worthwhile Activities." Dozens of books provide practical suggestions on the topic of 'time management.' The 'time wasters' are important to consider.

Everyone has personal opinions about what, for them, is unpleasant and something they want to avoid. Doing something they dislike is, for them, a “waste of time.” Many other people find the exact same activity pleasurable and not a waste of time. For examples: For many, gardening is not pleasurable and a waste of time; for others, a creative and physical joyfulness. Walking in the woods for hours is a delight for some; and an unpleasant waste of time for others. Some folks want to repair and upgrade automobiles for hours; for many others, that is just a technical and greasy job for the paid local mechanic.  Praying and attending church services are essential activities for many; and yet considered by many others as a waste of their time.  Watching sports for many hours on television is a top priority for many; and a boring waste of time for may others.  The old saying about "one man's meat is another man's poison" applies to more that debates between vegetarians and meat eaters. 

Efficiency is indeed important in many aspects of life and employment. Consistently doing something the wrong way at work would be considered a “waste of time,” and a likely cause for dismissal. Some problems are seemingly impossible to solve, and trying to do so might be considered a waste of time.
However, efficiency should not always be the primary criterion to use in judging. What about effectiveness, aesthetics, goodness, pleasures, etc.

Personal dissatisfaction about “excessive” amounts of time spent on a single activity, and avoiding or neglecting some other more important personal priorities and objectives, might trigger the judgment about that activity being a waste of time. Any activity carried to excess in this fashion is indeed a squandering your limited temporal resources.

Sometimes some of our behaviors are an addiction or compulsion, and of very limited benefit or injurious to us or others. We realize we are wasting and loosing time, but cannot control ourselves.

After our daily work and chores are completed, and we have completed our commitments and responsibilities, then we might relax, enjoy ourselves, and "waste" some time. It was not time wasted, but time used for personal pleasures.  

It is best for us to be very careful in our judgments about what we consider a "waste of time" for ourselves and/or others.  

"I am not an arbiter of taste, and it is not my place to tell you what to read, listen to, or watch.  I just want you to be aware that the decisions you make about all this affect your moods and emotions better and worse.  I urge you to make them mindfully."
-  Dr. Andrew Weil, Spontaneous Happiness, p 155.


  1. Anonymous8:25 AM PDT

    The article that you posted is a waste of time too.

  2. Mr. Anonymous, I understand such opinions. You prefer doing something else with your time. Yes, a waste of time for you.

  3. Anonymous8:36 AM PDT

    Michael, I enjoy your web site immensely. What you do is amazing. For that I give thanks. About the "Top 20 Time Wasters and the Top 5 Worthwhile Activities, I should know by now to stay away from such personal nonsense. Like the old stoic Epictetus states: " recognize that each person is responsible for his choices in accordance with his active perception and interpretation of his circumstances. Each journey is different and our experiences are our own. Bob Dow

  4. Bob,
    I also try to avoid generalizations about what activities are a "waste of time" for others. I'm sure many people consider weightlifting or yoga or Taijiquan a "waste of time" for themselves and others. Each journey is different indeed.