Wasting time: it’s a thing you do now and then, I’m sure. Sit by yourself and watch an episode of The Office you’ve already seen seven times. Refresh Facebook again—maybe there’s something new this time. Check your e-mail for the fifth time that hour. Delay. Sit. Procrastinate. Dawdle. Waste time.
However, when does time spent on something become time wasted? Time burnt? “Three hours down the drain”? Time is often regarded in the same linguistic category as currency: you spend, invest, waste—all appropriate verbs because time is valuable.
We are often prone to believing that we are wasting time simply because what we are doing doesn’t have a practical benefit. Get in, eat, get out of the caf. You’ve got things to do. Don’t waste time talking to your friends online; get your classwork done. Since when is interaction with other people a waste of time?
Everything we do shapes how we think, how we act, how we live. Every movie we see, every book we read, every class we take has some effect on our existence. Nobody is immune to change, even the most jaded and cynical among us are constantly learning something. That’s how our minds work. There are no eureka moments, no sudden ideas that kick us in the face, drastically changing our lives. Those romanticized revolutions of thought are, practically speaking, nigh-nonexistent.
For all the bits and pieces we gain from life, there are too many we ignore. Think about how you spent the time you weren’t in class, at work, doing homework or eating yesterday.
There are very few activities that one absolutely cannot gain value. It varies greatly based on the quality of the activity itself, but that can come down to taste. Time is only truly wasted if you waste it. There’s nothing preventing someone from learning, growing and gaining from any number of experiences that make little to no sense to an outside observer. Working out, even though we don’t really need to. Playing video games. Reading old books we’ve already read. There are so many things that can be difficult to justify to other people because we probably don’t spend enough time thinking about them. We just do them.
Even spacing out is a valuable activity if you make it worthwhile. Think about what you do, don’t just do. This said, even the most inherently valuable activities, such as studying, can be wasted if one allows them to be. If all the effort put forth is to simply complete the assignment, then what’s the point?
A lot of value can be hidden within places you don’t expect. All it takes is a little thought to find it.