We are reminded periodically by others to “use our time wisely.” We’ve told our children that many times. This nugget of advice takes on more significance to baby boomers because we appreciate that a huge chunk of our earthly time has come and gone. Today I received another admonition on this very topic. It hit me hard and reinforced some of the decisions I have made in recent years.
This is the common sense “using our time wisely” advice from Masterson:
The time we spend on each of our daily activities can either: (a) improve us; (b) keep us the same; or (c) damage us. That’s not a difficult concept to grasp. But what we sometimes forget is that these choices and options apply to all of our basic activities – working, eating, sleeping, and relaxing.
For example, sometimes relaxing means having fun. Getting drunk can be considered “fun” for some, but it can clearly damage us. Having a beer after work with friends is fun that causes no damage but is not exactly life-improving either. There are other activities with friends that can be fun and improve us. Example: For a number of years I belonged to an investment club with friends. That was fun and educational. I know people who embrace book clubs – reading and sharing with friends.
The books you read to relax can improve you (lots of choices there) or do nothing but take up your time (e.g., romance novels).
The work you do can provide a paycheck but may beat you down in other ways. If you “work for the weekend” you know what I mean.
The food you eat – well you know that story. Food damage is everywhere and sometime permanent (e.g., diabetes).
Sleeping? I suppose our choices there are to either (1) sleep long and well enough to keep our batteries charged for other activities or (2) remain sleep deprived and struggle through the day.
As Masterson points out, each of our activity choices during a day may not seem significant. But when you string them all together over a full day or a week, can you say that these activities have improved us?
For most of us, the sum total of a day’s activities probably fall within that neutral zone of keeping us the same. Perhaps we mix a few life improving activities with others that bring us down. There is another word for that lifestyle: Mediocre.
Do we lead mediocre lives because of our activity choices? We sure can. Do we choose the activities that offer the least resistance or require the least effort? Do we fill our time with stagnant amusement, e.g., watching our favorite television programs? A lot of us do these things, without thoughtful consideration.
I started blogging about retirement and personal finance 20 months ago. It has filled a lot of my time. I consider this a life improving activity. I learn new things while doing it. It may improve my writing. It makes me think about my life in different ways. I have made other important life planning decisions based on what I have learned and what I have thought about while researching and writing my blogs.
At work, I have made a sincere effort to choose those activities (and clients) that energize me and cause me to want to work harder. The boring stuff and negative clients I have tried to avoid or discard, with some success. These choices have made me a better worker. I am trying new technology and new approaches at work because I have made time for that, deliberately. I try to share what I learn with my co-workers.
What activities have I discarded? I watch less TV. I don’t go to sporting events as much as I used to. I don’t drink as much. I would still “enjoy” these things but not so much if I am considering the alternatives.
This post has been a bit of a ramble. Maybe it will cause you to think about your time-choices. Maybe you have some wisdom to offer the rest of us in a comment. Please do that.