We can’t control whether to spend our time, only what we spend it on. This thought has echoed around and around in my mind ever since I first heard it.
Part of me shudders in a panic at the thought of spending my time on something that isn’t productive. Almost every day, I wonder, “Is this a massive waste of time? Should I be doing something else?!”
No project is so perfect that another never tempts us. What’s important is that whatever you choose to do, you do it.
Your time has to be spent somewhere, right? And whatever you choose to do is a perfectly good way to spend it.
The amount of time we intend to spend on a task, a day, a week, or a lifetime. It isn’t important because that time is going to pass regardless. The only question is whether we will have anything to show for it afterwards.
Sometimes the reward is immediate, and sometimes it may take a very long time. All that matters is that there is a return on your investment.
Of course, it can be stressful to believe that every single minute has to be accounted for. A healthy concept of “return on your investment” must be broad enough to include rest, recreation, education and creating good memories with family and friends. Not all rewards have to be financial!
Nor do we have to succumb to the sunk cost fallacy and continue with something just for the reward we imagined we’d get when we began. Sometimes learning “this isn’t for me” is an adequate reward for time invested.
Whatever the outcome, there’s no point berating our past selves. You had to spend that time somewhere, and you picked the best option you could see at the time.
When we look back and evaluate our lives, we will have a whole heap of things to show for how we spent our time. But there’s no correct mixture of outcomes that have to be in that heap.
You don’t want to be so determined to spend your time perfectly that you refuse to spend it at all. Just as your past self had to, you can only pick whatever option seems best right now. Choosing not to spend your time isn’t an option, so you may as well spend your time on something that feels right to you now, whether that’s staying late at the office every night or relaxing in hammocks.
Your time is guaranteed to pass no matter what you do; you might as well try and have something to show for it afterwards.
I think this feeling is probably familiar to a lot of us. We enjoyed doing something, but the laundry didn’t get done, so we felt bad for having done something we enjoyed. Let’s stop feeling guilty for enjoying ourselves. Let’s stop beating ourselves up just because we’ve not got our to-do lists done.
Whether you’re wasting your time doing a particular activity or not is subjective. Some say watching a movie with your friends is a waste of time. But if you’re having fun, then is it really a waste of time? Some say working long hours at the office is a good use of time, but what if you absolutely detest it?
I think the only time we waste is the time we spend doing things that won’t ever add to our enjoyment in life. So, for example, working late at work might not be enjoyable at the moment. But if you’re doing it so you can have the resources to create enjoyment in the future, then it’s not wasted time.
Now, if you’re spending your time scrolling through Instagram just to pass the time, and it does nothing for your enjoyment level either now or in the future, then I’d say you’re wasting your time. Especially if what you’re doing will actually decrease your enjoyment in the future as well.
Of course, it’s your life, and you can spend your time doing whatever it is you want. Just don’t forget, what you spend time doing today can affect what options you’ll have in the future.
What I’m saying is, as long as you’re wasting time in moderation and as long as you’re enjoying it, you shouldn’t feel bad about it. So I’m inspired to shift my focus to some of my more enjoyable, quieter pursuits – some that could be filed into the category of time wasters. Because after all, time you enjoy wasting isn’t wasted time.