Are You Really "Wasting Time"?

Somewhere in my mind the idea of “wasting time” has become synonymous with “not engaging in income generating or portfolio building activities”. If I take a nap - I’m wasting time. If I go for a hike - I’m wasting time. If I watch one episode of The Office - I’m wasting time.

“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”
- Charles Darwin

I read this quote the other day and it got me thinking. Sometimes you need to sleep in the middle of the day, there is a lot of value in being out in the wilderness, and I love the way Pam and Jim’s awkward flirting makes me feel. Calling my time spent napping, hiking, or watching The Office “wasted” is not what I mean or believe that time to be. Considering that time “wasted” is conditioning. It’s what I was indirectly taught in school and by the popular culture of 21st century America.

As I dug into this further, I found my own definition of “wasting time”. Wasting time: Doing things that do not make you happy, do not get you closer to your dreams, and do not get you excited or make you feel fulfilled in any way.

Wasting time is not napping, it’s mindlessly going through Facebook when I can’t focus. Wasting time is not hiking, it’s sitting through a class that I know is just bullshit. Wasting time is not watching The Office, it’s living for the weekend - if you have to slog through 5 days just to have an enjoyable 2 then you should reflect on your current situation a little bit, your life is passing you by.

Even with my new definition of “wasting time”, I still find myself feeling like I need to earn my play time, and even then I feel a little bad taking time for myself. I know I’m not the only person who feels this way, which saddens me. Luckily (or not so luckily) this is due to conditioning, and conditioning can be changed. When I’m taking time for myself and start to feel this way I remind myself that these times of play are what make life worth living. You work to live, not live to work - the natural state of the world is play and somehow we’ve forgotten that.

No activities are inherently a waste of time. There is no textbook definition for wasting time. Take a minute and ask yourself what wasting time looks like for you, and don’t be stupid in the eyes of Alan Watts.

“If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid.”
- Alan Watts