When I was single, living on my own, working my first job out of college, I had all this time on my hands. And what did I do? I wasted it. I played video games, watched movies that didn’t challenge my brain, and stopped growing. Looking back at that time, I would do anything to have used those hours for something else.
Don’t get me wrong, I know I can’t. And I love my life now, but I wish I could sit down with my younger self and tell me about the things I want to do now. I would share how I carve out 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour to write. It makes me think more intentionally about the time I use now.
If I want to do something for myself, I use my mornings before my beautiful little daughters wake up. Or I use my lunchtimes at work to sneak away to a coffee shop. And then, if I am lucky and not exhausted at the end of the day I might snag a few minutes to read or write. It is a valuable time to me. Especially for writing.
Yet, I have a compulsion to want to waste it.
Stop Wasting Time
I wrote this with the last 15 minutes of the 5 am hour. I was up at 5 am. What happened? Where did the other 45 minutes go? Looking at Facebook and Instagram. Reading about some sports events that I cannot control. And somehow I got sucked into one of those slideshows on a website talking about fan theories for the upcoming Star Wars movie. What the heck am I doing!?!?
We all feel this odd sense that we can just sneak a little time in for senseless things. And then, we lose an hour of precious time that we could be reading, writing, praying, working on our side hustle, or just preparing ourselves for the day. What we need to do is to stop. We need to let go of these cultural distractions and take up what is most important to us.
How to Stop Wasting Time
Clearly, I am not a master of this, see above. However, I know what I did to pound out these few hundred words and still feel satisfied with my work. I got up from the comfy easy chair I was in, started the coffee, and sat down at the kitchen table with my laptop, and started writing. Here I am. Drinking my dark cup of coffee and writing. What I could have been done 45 minutes ago. Here is how we can let go of the time-wasters and pick up the things we really want to be doing.
1. Acknowledge Reality
Stop a second, acknowledge you have not been using your time in a productive manner. Sure kick yourself a little if you need to, but that is it. You get a few seconds to do it and then you need to start moving so you don’t lose any more time.
2. Move to a Productive Space
It sure feels weird to waste time at the kitchen table. I have tried it. It doesn’t provide the comfort of my easy chair. When we waste some time, we are normally in a comfortable space. Move to something a little more structured. If you have a desk in your home, go to that space. Move to somewhere that supports the productive activity.
This is the hardest part. I started three different pieces of writing before I came to this one. But I started. Inspiration or “the muse” may not hit right away. Which is fine. It’s probably part of the reason you were wasting time in the first place. Get going, and make something happen. Trust me, it’s better than doing nothing.
These three things are all based on the fact that you know what your priorities are and that you are already chasing after them.