Saturday Musing: I Don't Have Time!

Saturday Musing: I Don't Have Time! October 27, 2012

As I seek to manage my time better, I’ve been reminded over and over of something I’ve always known but have been reluctant to admit at times. Have you discovered this for yourselves? Here’s the secret I’ve learned: You always have more time to do worthwhile things than you think. How many times do we say, to ourselves or others, “Man I just don’t have time for x or y,” when really it wouldn’t take as much time as we think to do x or y?
For example, do you know how many chapters of the Bible you can read in half an hour? Okay, maybe Leviticus doesn’t count, but take a normal book like Proverbs or something. Maybe you tell yourself your schedule just doesn’t allow you time to be in the Word. But you could probably get through ten chapters in just fifteen minutes. Or if meditation is your goal, think what you could get out of a single chapter in fifteen minutes of undivided focus and attention.

Maybe the thought of cleaning your house daunts you. But if you pick just one small room, you could probably do what needs to be done to get it clean in less than an hour. If you don’t have even an hour to spare during the week, set it aside for a weekend. Again, you’re probably assuming it’s going to take longer than it actually does.
On the flip side, we often underestimate the time it takes to waste time. “I need a break—I’ll just watch this 45-minute episode of my favorite show. WOAH, what an awesome twist! I gotta finish the finale to see what happens… oh gosh, I guess I just spent an hour and a half there didn’t I? Well, hehe, time sure flies when you’re having fun.” Or how about this: “I’m just booping around the net to see what’s interesting in the world… Hey, I never knew that blah-blah-blah! I should find out more about that. Oooooh, this new artist sounds cool, let’s go see what else they’ve done.” And… there goes your one free afternoon of the week.
I admit this isn’t as much of a problem for people who have a serious, full-time job and maybe a family as well. You’ve got plenty of serious things to keep you busy. I guess this is geared more towards younger people like me, who are busy enough that time is valuable, but not so busy that you don’t have any time to kill. Did I hit close to home for anyone? Any other pearls of wisdom you’d like to share?

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  • This was one of my favourite posts that you’ve written. I identify with it so much, especially being a final year Uni student.
    I feel that I’ve almost too much time. So much time that I can sit with coursework piling up and think, but I can do that on either one of my two days off a week……but guess what…it’s still waiting to be done.
    It’s only when I’m back at Uni that I become a domestic genius, cleaning, polishing and ironing. Anything to avoid……real work!!

  • Thanks! I literally sat down and thought “I should probably put up a new post… what am I thinking about right now?” and that came out. Glad you liked it. I like the idea of cleaning to escape schoolwork. All for a noble cause right? 🙂

  • Wow, as a (homeschooled) high school student this really hit home for me. It has been something that has been on my mind lately. Wasting time can be hard for me. Sometimes I try to leave my computer off until later in the day, but I like to use it to listen to music while I work as well. And then once it’s up, it’s so easy to just hop over and check such and such and then move over here, etc. I need to better and this post is a good encouragement. The paradox is funny; our generation is always “busy” but we are always wasting time. Self-control is hard to come by in this time when we are technology-controlled.

  • LOL, I’m definitely not in the age group you mentioned. But as a 50+ full time teacher I’ve learned that you can easily fill your days with very serious, important work. I had to learn the opposite of what you wrote about … that it’s good and even necessary to take time to do nothing special. I had to learn to find a healthy balance between work and fun (as in surfing the Internet, listening to music and just doing nothing of importance to anyone).
    It’s not a “sin” to waste your one free afternoon a week (as long as you get your assignments done, lol)

  • Lydia

    The Internet has a huge potential to give people symptoms like those of ADHD even if they don’t actually have it. I’ve found that for work one really doesn’t feel much like doing, the antidote to the insidious inclination to waste time is an inclination to OCD. If you can cultivate a mindset in which it really *bothers* you that the floor hasn’t been swept or a room cleaned or vacuumed, this will provide a strong counter-pull against the time-wasting suction of the Internet. And the same for homework, Bible reading, and all sorts of other good things. It really helps a lot if you have a little mental commentator continually asking you what truly worthwhile stuff you have accomplished today and whether you could have done more. Perhaps this doesn’t sound like much fun, but it may be one of the only things that really works if one has unlimited Internet access.

  • Yes, I know exactly what you mean. Fortunately I’ve deliberately tried to cultivate that “little voice,” so that I sometimes try to set up a mini system of rewards or something. Like “Oh, you want to watch TV? Hmmmm, well how about doing a full round of exercises and getting that calculus chapter finished up first, ‘k?”

  • Ha! Well, you definitely have a luxury there. And I agree it’s not a “sin” or anything if you’re a generally responsible person. It’s when wasting time becomes a habit that one needs to re-evaluate.

  • Yes, I think that’s very astute!