Your time is valuable, and finite. You only have so many hours on this earth. Hopefully you’ll have a long life, but still there’s a remote possibility you’ll get run over by a bus next month. Plan for a lifetime, but live today like it’s your last day on earth. Quality is more important than quantity. It’s better to live a day as a lion than a hundred years as a sheep. To make the best of your numbered days, you’ll need to cut time wasters out of your life, or at least severely limit them. Some of these include:
Television: There was a study done in the 1970s which found that by the time children reach adulthood, they’d watched an average of 18,000 hours of TV. That’s right – a thousand hours a year in front of the electronic babysitter. Granted, the study is rather dated, but are kids really watching that much less TV these days? Obviously many of us continue to be addicted to the idiot box throughout our adulthoods. For instance, watching sports is a rather odd ritual when you think about it: screaming on the sofa for two hours, with a beer in one hand and a bag of junk food in the other. Is it really that important? Why spend hours staring passively into a glowing box? Since many shows have subtle messages meant to demoralize us, along with commercials every ten minutes telling us to buy crap we don’t need, getting rid of your TV is a no-brainer. Get the enemy’s propaganda needle out of your arm! At the very least, cancel your cable subscription and stop feeding the media beast. Quit being a couch potato! Substitute: Read classic literature.
Video games: This form of electronic entertainment isn’t quite as passive as TV, and it’s more fun. Matt Forney made a brilliant observation:
In a game, the playing field is fair. It’s tailored to your strengths as a man. It offers tangible rewards for performance. Its rules are clearly stated and work as advertised. If it screws you over, it’s because you did something wrong or didn’t perform up to speed. In other words, it’s everything the workplace and classroom are supposed to be but aren’t.
Still, it’s unproductive, and some people really get sucked into video games. For about a year, one of my managers did almost nothing at work but play Warcrack. At the worst extreme, “poopsocking” can be fatal – deaths have resulted from self-neglect and neglect of young children. Only a small fraction of people are quite that bad off, but if you’re wasting hours a day on video games, maybe it’s time to get a life. If your next question is where to download a life, then you’re not quite getting the point! Blowing up pixels on a screen is fun, but always remember, none of that is real. Get a life! Substitute: Go to the gym and lose that beer gut, get into martial arts, or play team sports.
Social media: The Internet provides many ways to waste time, but this one’s a biggie. I wouldn’t be the first person to observe that social media makes us less social. Many people are glued to Fakebook for hours a day, keeping track of hundreds of “friends”. I only look at it once in a blue moon, and the last time I reviewed my friends list, it was surprising how many of them I don’t remember and how many I now kind of hate. Social media is a lousy way to keep up with your friends; once again, it’s about quality, not quantity. If all your “friends” are online, then you have no friends! Substitute: Hang out with some real friends.
Pornography: Since the 1970s – due to changing morals, the legal landscape, and especially technology – porn has become increasingly easier to obtain. Now, it’s weirder than ever before too. These days, you can have multiple browser windows displaying subjects that would have left Sigmund Freud gobsmacked. Some guys do exactly that, for hours a day. Not only is this a huge waste of time, this can really screw up your love life. Too much porn can reduce your motivation to find a real woman, desensitize you so that ordinary cuties don’t turn you on any more, make your tastes go off into strange directions, screw up your ability to climax during sex due to overuse of the “dick death grip”, and even cause porn-induced ED. The folks at Your Brain On Porn explain these things, and more. Other than that, watching some dude bone someone you’d like to bone is rather pathetic! To make an analogy, if sex is a meal at a five-star restaurant, then porn is a starch briquette soaked in partially hydrogenated grease that’s been sitting on the snacks shelf at a convenience store for six months. Quit being a wanker! Substitute: Find a girlfriend, or a dozen; your call.
Substance abuse: Unlike all the above, this one’s been around since forever. I’d be the world’s worst hypocrite if I told you that you shouldn’t drink beer. However, I certainly won’t make a lifestyle out of it. If you’re getting wasted day after day, then you’ve got a problem. If you’re smoking a pack of cigs every day, then it’s time to do a cost-benefit analysis. Pot makes you lazy and stupid, most especially in large quantities. Surely someone out there is sucking on a reefer and thinking I’m a big idiot – well, denial’s not just a river in Egypt! Harder stuff is an absolute no-go. When I was a teenager, my uncle told me that using drugs becomes a problem when the drug starts using you. I thought that was pretty brilliant at the time. Since he’s a cokehead, he should consider his own advice! Anyway, the main problem with his bon mot is that you get sucked into it before you realize you have a problem, and then it’s too late. Hard drugs – coke (especially crack), meth, heroin and other powerful opiates – rewire the brain. I’ve known quite a few dope fiends, but I could never figure out what’s so much fun about being a zombie. Eventually, drug addicts go to prison, die of an overdose, or start looking and acting like Gollum. Get that monkey off your back! Substitute: Expand your mind with meditation.
In strict moderation, time wasters aren’t so bad. However, if you’re blowing hours a day doing these things, you’re missing out on opportunities to improve yourself. If your life is centered on something unproductive, then reexamine your priorities. Paraphrasing Socrates, a life of mindless entertainment is not worth living. Be the best person you can be. Stay excellent, my friends!