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How To Stop Wasting Time (And Make The Most Of Your Life)

Life always seems to quickly fly by us. As we age older and older, we begin to call life itself short, feeling some kind of ending is near. When we are having fun, those moments seem to blissfully zoom past us in seconds. We say, “That was fun. I wish I could’ve done that more or spent more time with that person.”

But if our days are less amusing and stressful, time is an endless drag. We want the day to be over. So we’ll sleep it off, drink away the hours, or absorb up some television. The Stoic Philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca would consider this to be wasting time.

We make time for the unnecessary and forget about the key parts of our lives that are necessary. We can make it to 70 years old and still call life itself short, but the truth is it’s not. To live 70 years equals 840 months, 25,550 days, ,and 36,792,000 minutes. You can’t tell me this is not a lengthy life. Imagine how much time you’ve spent so far. 

Perhaps a short life is not the length of your days alive but instead about how you live with the valuable time that you have living today. Maybe less of our focus should be structured around our lifespan and more so on what we’re doing in this existing moment we have right now. Too much time is wasted when it should be put to use, even in those times of difficulty.

We happen to misunderstand time when it comes to productivity and our relationships. Seneca states that busyness is an illusion and an ultimate distraction. Productivity becomes a distraction because then we limit our time for the important things that matter the most to us. Maximum productivity makes us believe that we are doing it all, but it’s stealing away the time that is valuable to us.

When a loved one passes, we end up wishing upon a star for extra spare time with them. Although we were given the time, we failed to receive it in those crucial moments. We may reminisce about our young years, saying, “I wish I did that a little more back when I was that age, but I’m far too old for that now.” And now we just reflect on what could’ve been. 

Life is given to us generously to accomplish amazing things. We always complain about the shortness of life but maybe it’s short because we aren’t cherishing it the way we are supposed to. Being around a group of friends that gossip all day long isn’t soaking up the entirety of life. Neither is being intoxicated every day with liquor or drug consumption just to get away from reality. The biggest factor is also technology, where we are unconsciously scrolling through our social media feeds, browsing the web for no reason, staying up late hours, and checking every email or text message because of our fear of missing out—only to miss out on the greatest gift we have. 

We are alive but living dead lives, working 9-5 for a future that isn’t guaranteed, keeping ourselves moving, but towards something unknown. What is it that you want to do now with your life, and how are you spending your time? 

We’ve all had those silly moments in our lives where we say “What was the point in that? That wasn’t worth it.” And it’s true. Some stuff is just not worth the extra second, minute, or hour. Just give it a rest while you’re at it. We need to conserve our time and energy for things and people that do benefit our life. You can’t shift the clock and rewind time that you were wasteful with. You know that’s not how life works.

Seneca states that life tends to be short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future. He says often a very old man has no other proof of his long life than his age.

Here’s a few obvious ways you just may be wasting your time:

1. Complaining

2. Watching/reading the news

3. Procrastinating 

4. Gossiping

5. Being around more time wasters

6. Waiting for something to happen

7. Surfing the web

8. Watching television 

9. And much more

Avoid those bad habits that waste your time. Everyone has good and bad habits. If you find yourself taking a large amount of time to do something that is not benefiting you, it’s a no-brainer. Stop giving your attention to whatever serves no purpose in your life. You have to ask yourself questions like “Does this really matter?” or “What’s the reason for this?” 

These self-reflection questions are useful and can help you to do something significant with intention and not through mindless actions and behaviors. Because too often we are too kind with our time, devoting it to everything but the main principles. We end up being deprived of our energy feeling physically or mentally burnt out. Then we end up not having the time for anything else.

Don’t be afraid to say no to pointless things. Be true to yourself and know what it is that you truly want out of this life. As the Roman philosopher said, stop living as if you were destined to live forever. 

“What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: Live immediately.” – Seneca