Wasting food drives me crazy. I shop carefully so I don't bring too much in the house in the first place. I get a veggie box of "ugly" veggies, the cast offs that farms would normally throw away. I plan meals that use the ingredients deep in the recesses of my pantry. I make tons of veggie broth out of kitchen scraps, all in hopes of leaving nothing behind. The food on my table costs money. A lot of money, I might add, if you happen to live in the Bay Area. Someone out there literally slaved in a field for hours to make sure it was tended and produced. I appreciate those efforts. Food is a limited and precious resource. I wouldn't dare waste it.
But what about time? That's a pretty limited resource, too. When we are jumping in the car, on the brink of being late, I'll tell my kids "It's time to go - NOW." They might often reply "I need just 1 more minute" and I basically tell them sorry, I'm not that powerful. I can't give you any extra minutes today. Someone else decided on 1,440 minutes per day. We need to live within those parameters. Can't argue with that. So get in the car.
Time is precious. Each day. Each minute. And yet we waste it with freedom and uncertainty. If we can identify the big time-wasters, we can pay better attention to the impact they have on our schedule. Maybe we can even be a bit more mindful about how we are choosing to use our most precious resource. We might even realize that we have more time than we think, once we clear away some of the waste. With little effort, I can identify time wasters that immediately come to mind:
1. Facebook. Instagram. I know, I know. It's a great way to stay in touch. It keeps people connected. It is the only way I see news. Fine. Use it for those very things. But scrolling through the feed just to kill 10 minutes is absolutely insane. And let's never think of our 10 minutes as needing to be killed. We use our 10 minutes for something good. I'm not sure Facebook or Instagram qualify, but that is based on my values. I value personal face-time with my kids. I value meaningful conversation. And in the absence of that, I don't find those values served by looking at social media. So I don't Facebook or Instagram like that. But if your values are staying connected through technology, then go for it. By all means, spend time using the resource that advances your personal goals. If it does anything less, ask yourself why you are choosing to use your time on it. Good question, right? The answer will be even better.
2. Flipping through 845 television channels in search of something to watch.....what is that? I can't see past this being anything other than a mind that can't figure out what to do with itself. So put your mind to work and ask yourself what your mind needs. I doubt it will be channel-flipping. We learn nothing. We see nothing. We walk away with - less than nothing, after all, time was lost during that mindless flipping.
3. Eating mindlessly takes time and wastes our time. Hands busy snacking on popcorn can't get busy diving into that project that is waiting on the table for you. I find myself doing it when I'm trying to get work done on these blogs. I stand up and automatically head to the kitchen for - what? Anything other than what I'm doing. I'm wasting time because I don't know what to say next. Often, I come away with a few crackers or a piece of fruit. If I can check myself and listen well, I will grab water, take a few deep breaths, and get back to work in front of the computer. Our time spent doing work, is not wasted, until we decide to avoid it with mindless and nuanced procrastination tactics. And procrastinating is high-level, openly justified, time-wasting. What are you avoiding? And is it worth the time you have wasted avoiding it? More good questions.
4. Wasted family time due to petty arguments or unsettled conflict that no one will allow to die. The small stuff takes away from the big stuff - your time as a family together. Arguing with our spouse about a missed chore. Arguing with the kids about the shoes in the middle of the hallway (again). I'd much rather spend my time laughing around the dinner table or watching my daughter cheat at Uno. The petty nonsense that bugs us or seems to demand our attention is just keeping us occupied in ways that might hurt us in the long run. Our time on this planet, and our time together, is precious. Filling it with the petty stuff wastes a whole lot of it.
There are literally hundreds of ways we end up wasting our time. Stop and do a personal audit of your day and identify your time wasters. It might lead you to make different choices about what you are doing, which will ultimately change the course of your day, and your feelings about how your day was spent. Let your personal mantra become any or all of the following:
I will not waste my time.
I will not waste my time on things that do not enrich me.
I will not waste my energy and personal resources.
I will not waste my time on anything that takes me away from what is most important.
I will not waste my time because of others.
I will not waste my time.
Treat your time as a resource. Challenge yourself to be less wasteful with your time, energy and personal resources. In so doing, honor the blessing of time and feel in control. Strive for zero waste. And find me if you need any veggie broth. I've got a plenty to share.