Our time on this planet is limited. Most of us realize that sooner or later. And yet, we keep on squandering our time and running around in circles.
Why is it that we waste so much of our time? Most people think that we, humans, don’t understand the value of time.
I don’t think that’s the problem. You and I both know the value of time. It’s a depletable resource. By that definition, the value of time is high.
So if the problem is not our appreciation of time, what’s the cause of a waste of time and potential?
The answer is obvious: We simply don’t know what to do with our time. The stoic philosopher Seneca famously said in On The Shortness Of Life:
“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.”
Most of us read that and get a temporary boost: “Wow, I need to value my time and stop wasting it.”
Do you know what we do next?
We open Instagram and waste 42 minutes on consuming shit. We go out for coffee for the 7th time this week. We play video games for 2 hours straight. We gossip on the phone for 55 minutes.
Ask yourself: Are the things that I’m doing worth my time? I’ve done that. And most of the things I did simply were not. But distinguishing wasteful activities from worthwhile activities is hard.
As an exercise, I recommend everyone to sit down and think about what activities are worth your time. This is a personal exercise. Everybody values different things. To give you an idea of how I spend my time, I’ve made a list of 15 activities that I consider worthwhile.
- Working out — I especially like strength training because being strong is one of the most useful things in life. Sitting behind your desk for hours, going shopping, traveling — your life will be a lot easier when you’re physically strong.
- Spending time with people you love — It doesn’t really matter what you do. It’s more about being around people you genuinely care about. That will lift your spirits and give you energy.
- Learning how your body works — Everybody should know how their body functions. I also like to read about the latest scientific research on health and fitness.
- Journaling — It’s always nice to sit down at the end of a day and reflect. What did I do today? What did I learn? What am I going to do tomorrow? Answering those questions is the best time you’ll spend every day.
- Learning a skill — Always be learning a new skill. I started practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a while back. I go to class every week and I constantly learn from YouTube videos. I always want to learn a new skill because it reminds me that I’m always a student.
- Making a financial strategy — I like to read and hear about investing strategies of different people. Even though I consider myself a value investor, I still look at what day traders do. I’m interested in finance because I don’t want to waste my hard-earned money.
- Watching good movies/tv-shows — I sometimes make fun of people who binge-watch tv shows. I think that’s a waste of your day. But I love movies and good shows. They can give you inspiration too.
- Listening to music — I listen to music a lot. It gives me inspiration and energy. The best thing is to listen to music that fits your mood.
- Reading — I start and close my day with reading. And I never miss a day.
- Talking about life — It’s nice to have a good conversation with someone who has the same mindset as you. I’ve grown to hate shallow conversations. So I don’t waste my time anymore on people who I don’t have a deep connection with.
- Going to the sauna — I do this twice a week. It’s apparently good for you. But that’s not why I go. I love the heat and quiet. The time I spend in the sauna is like meditation to me.
- Discovering new books — I can spend hours browsing books that I want to read. But I try to not overdo it. Otherwise, you’re reading more ABOUT books than reading actual books.
- Watching sports — I used to play basketball and I still enjoy watching it. But I only follow the NBA, not all professional sports.
- Laughing — I love some good banter. Life is hard and if you don’t laugh about yourself, you only make it harder.
- Working on your goals — Every minute you spend on advancing your life is time you don’t regret spending.
At the end of a day, you must look back and think to yourself, “If this was my last day, I’m okay with that.”
Can you honestly say that? Look, it’s not about living every day like it’s your last. If everybody did that, we would have total anarchy.
Instead, make sure you spend your time well. Are you proud of how you’re spending your days? Answer yes, and you’ll never live with regrets.