June  2013     Edition 92
Wasting Time - Not what you might think

When thinking about productivity,

"Time" of course is a variable, so we starting thinking more about time, how we use it, and how we waste it. We discovered something very interesting about wasting time.

Just about everyone would agree

that we just don't have enough time, therefore it is prudent to spend a few minutes thinking about how to avoid wasting it. We use our time in a variety of activities, mainly in a few categories;

- Time to Learn

- Time we use to learn something.

- Time to Do

- Time we use to get something accomplished (off your "to-do" list)

- Time for Nature

- Sleeping, eating, hygiene, exercise, etc.

- Time for others

- Time we devote to others.

- Time for self

- Time we use for ourself; watching re-runs of "Friends", reading a fiction book, relaxing, vacations, going to a basketball game, hobbies, etc.

The average person will spend at least half the day due to Nature

. While you can reduce how much sleep you get, or occasionally skip a meal, in the long term, you can't do much about this average. This leaves less than half the day available for other things.

The time you allocate to the other four categories will vary

, each day, week, and season. If you're taking care of someone who is ill, your "Time for others" will increase. If you're exceptionally busy at work, or you're ready to host a party at home, then the time for "Do" might increase. If you're lucky enough to vacation at a beach hotel in Hawaii, then you'll spend more time for "self". If you're trying to figure out how to refinish a piece of furniture, you might spend more time in "Learning", so the time you spend "doing" is not going into "redoing".

Two time slots that seem to get sacrificed

the most are Time for Learning and Time for Self. These take self discipline to allocate time for. This is a shame, because time for Learning is critically important for staying healthy and productive, as is time for self. If we didn't waste time, we might have more for these activities.

So what is wasting time?

Is it playing a game on a smart phone, watching a You-tube video, reading the comics in the newspaper, taking the long, but scenic route, as you drive, having a conversation with a friend about a meal you had together six years ago? NO .. this is not wasting time, this is time spent in those five categories.

Wasting time is not about what you're spending time on

, but if it has value. Mind you, the value might be in relaxing, or maintaining a relationship, or satisfying your curiosity, or feeling good after a laugh. The value is up to you, it's your time. However, when you don't consciously think about what value an activity has, and it ends up having no value to you, then you have wasted your time.

For example

; when there is a news item, we might watch TV, or browse the internet, and listen to the same news, several times. OK, we're curious. What if you were to stop for a moment and ask "what is the value for me to spend 10 minutes listening to yet another report on the same news item, possibly with one or two added pieces of information". Is there value? If so, then go ahead and watch, call it "self time", or "learning time", or whatever. But if there is no value, and you've recognized that prior to using the time, then you have saved time, and not wasted it. You only waste it if you spend time on something that has no value, and you haven't recognized that prior to spending the time.

How much time do you spend at home, play or work that, in retrospect, didn't have any value? Remember, the value could be to learn, or for self, or for others. It doesn't have to be a "to-do". It doesn't have to be valuable to others. It is a waste, if it didn't have any value to you, and you didn't recognize it before spending the time on it.

The Takeaway:
Our time is one of the most valuable assets we have. It's limited, it continues to move forward, and you can't get it back, so chose how you use Time wisely. Think about what you're using your time for, and ask, "Is there value here". If so, go for it, if not, you've saved time for something that does have value.

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