What Did You Do With Your Time Today?

He who knows most grieves most for wasted time.

– Dante


A friend of mine recently told me how he once played Halo on his Xbox for 12 hours straight.   I remembered saying to myself, “Damn, that’s a long time to be playing video games.”  I was thinking about this conversation when I ran across a recent San Jose Mercury News article, “Endangered Dudes.”  The article talks about how kids are spending so much time watching porn and playing video games that their entire day is planned around these activities (eat, work/school, gaming, repeat).  The result – a generation of socially-inept youth.

I would never tell anyone how they should spend their time.  Whether it’s gaming, reading a book, running, doing martial arts, or watching re-runs of “Lost,” we all have our personal hobbies, interests, and passions.  But keep in mind that there is usually a cost when we do something for an inordinate amount of time.  For example, are you now dragging yourself around at school or work because you stayed up late to play Call of Duty?  Have you lost touch with your friends and family because you come straight home, plop on the couch, and watch TV for several hours?

Time is a precious commodity because it is limited.  Once it’s gone, we can’t get it back.

There are 168 hours in a week.  If you had to estimate, how many hours do you spend playing video games, surfing the internet, or watching TV?  Before you settle down with your Mountain Dew and pizza for your next 12-hour Halo session, keep in mind a few things:

What Are You Sacrificing?  Do you dream about starting your own business? Finding a significant other?  Losing 20 pounds? Learning a new language? Unless you plan to be the Halo champion of the world, the time you’re spending on one thing (like video games) is cutting into something else (like learning a new language).  Think about this when you catch yourself complaining about “not having enough time” to do certain things.

Be Honest With Yourself:  Charles Duhigg explains in his book, The Power of Habit, that our habits are triggered by some sort of reward.  For example, drinking or drugs allows us to temporarily escape from reality.  When stressed, we turn to “comfort” food.  What’s driving you to spend a lot of time doing that one thing?  What’s the payoff for you?  In identifying the reward, we can start looking for ways to alter our behavior.

Plan:  Be purposeful with your time and plan out when you’re going to play.  “I will play on the weekends for a maximum of four hours and only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for one hour.” Or better yet, make your playing time a reward. (“I will play one hour for each hour I spend working out or reading a good book.”)

Your time is extremely valuable.  We can do great things and enjoy our favorite activities (like video games) if we are mindful and deliberate with our time.  Know what you want, where you’re going, and keep asking yourself, “Is this the best use of my time?”


What’s your biggest time waster?