Time well spent: Focusing on what matters

If there is a task, form of entertainment, or maybe even a process, which I find myself taking an inordinate amount of my time with, I like to stop and the question “is it something that I will be proud of on my deathbed?”. A little heavy I know, but stay with me.

My first, and most vivid memory and somewhat life-changing tack due to this contemplation came about eight years ago. I had a Playstation 3, and although I was social and active I’d spend hours playing it. Too many hours. I’d play Call of Duty online, and I was by no means any good at it, in fact, I was terrible, yet that somehow didn’t stop me. One day I was on the couch, on a lovely summer day, playing CoD and desperately needing to go to the bathroom but was holding on till the end of the round. I didn’t make it.
That was a defining moment, “what the hell am I doing?” “is this a good use of my time” “am I proud of the time I spend trying to improve my skills on a video game?” and finally “will I look back at this time, on my deathbed, however, many years in the future, and be grateful this is how I spent it?”. That week I sold my Playstation and all my games and never looked back.

“When you kill time, remember that it has no resurrection.” – A.W. Tozer

I think most people now are aware of Bronnie Ware’s book Top Five Regrets of the Dying (listed below), but I do wonder, will our generation share these same regrets, or will we regret the hours spent Keeping Up with the Kardashians, uncovering how Carrol Baskin killed her husband, gossiping or scrolling social media. How many of us will wake up one day and note how many hours we spent lying around scrolling or binge-watching series on Netflix? The thought has an uncomfortable heaviness to it. What are a vast number of people missing out on? what could they achieve with more constructive/creative/playful use of this time?

Bronnie Ware’s Top Five Regrets of the Dying
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

be “ less impressed, more involved”. – Matthew McConaughey

I don’t really watch many series anymore, but I do have a current daily average usage time on social media that could have been put to far better uses, there is no point being upset at this lost time, but it's worth noting for the future. I’d love to learn to play an instrument, learn to speak Spanish and write more. If I’d used those hours for these avenues I’m sure that, by now, I would have something rather respectable to show for it.

“Regret for wasted time is more wasted time ” – Mason Cooley

“Watching television is like taking black spray paint to your third eye.” – Bill Hicks

Our lives are finite, time is our most precious resource, and we don’t always have to be productive but I’d like to think that whenever I do end up on my deathbed, that I’ll look back and see that I spent the majority of my time meaningfully.

“When you are on a time-bound purposeful journey, rest is not just idleness but wastefulness.” – Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

This post was inspired by the recent Tim Ferris podcast with Matthew McConaughey. Well worth a listen.

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