While Theophrastus said that “time is the most valuable thing a man can spend”, Bertrand Russell (and later, John Lennon) also said that “the time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time”. Reflecting on the words of these two great philosophers, we can see that we often fail to prioritise well. I ask myself why I spend so much time earning a living yet so little time actually living.
Our lives seem to be spent in waiting rooms, traffic jams, on hold and in anticipation. Unless it’s your life’s goal to be kept waiting as much as possible, it means you’re constantly waiting to live your life. And to quote another great philosopher, the intractable Ferris Bueller – “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”.
I’ve heard plenty of people say that watching TV is a waste of time. I’m not totally convinced of that. If you find yourself sitting in front of the box every evening without knowing why you’re watching something and without enjoying it – that sounds like it’s probably a waste of your time. However, if you’re watching your favourite show, perhaps laughing or crying as the plot moves along, then it seems to me that you’re enjoying your time, rather than wasting it. However, what often happens is a combination of the two things. I’m three quarters through watching a movie, which I’m really enjoying. I’m hooked by the suspense and racking my brain to guess what might happen next. I am, however, constantly being forced to wait to find out what happens next by constant commercial breaks. It wasn’t my plan to have a quiet evening in, watching adverts on TV. This is a blatant waste of my time. So, what can I do about it?
The VCR was a great liberator of telly addicts’ time. It allowed us to fast-forward through the crass sales pitches which had somehow got into our living rooms. And fast-forward still exists, although as those of you who stream TV know, the advertisers will find any way to surprise you will their sales pitch and force you to look at their products. One answer to this problem is already widely used by sports fans. The average NFL game has over an hour of commercials to waste your time selling you stuff you don’t need. I used to share an apartment with a bunch of American guys who would tune in to watch the game around three hours after it had started. None of them had a clue about the score or how the game was going and they all sat down together, cracked open some beers and watched a game which lasted three and a half hours in its original broadcast in less than an hour. By skipping through the half time show and all the commercial breaks they could actually watch three games of football in less time than it’s supposed to take to watch just one!
Another place where people find themselves wasting time is the kitchen. Now, I am aware of the joys of spending time rustling up a great meal – perhaps cooking whilst enjoying listening to your favourite music or collaborating with friends and family. I don’t want to do that every day, though. I want time to plant and tend to the vegetables that I will end up cooking. So what are the solutions? Well, contrary to what many say, a microwave – when used appropriately – is a great way of reducing cooking times. Obviously there are times when a microwave won’t do the job and so you could use a pressure cooker. A friend of mine cooked the most incredible ribs in just under thirty minutes in the pressure cooker and they came out just as if they’d been in the slow cooker all day. The meat just was so juicy and tender, and just slid easily off the bone. After that experience I went straight home and found myself a pressure cooker at the Pressure Cookers Portal.
There are so many other ways in which we waste time. A lot of them involve our kids. Lao Tzu said “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.” The same principle can be applied to our kids – instead of giving them everything they want, whenever they want it – from peeling fruit to cleaning their football boots, just invest an hour here and there to teach them these skills. Not only does it save you time, but you are improving the bonds with your child and, most importantly, preparing them to be able to take care of themselves. Kids love learning pretty much anything, so if you whether you could use a hand in the garden, in the kitchen or in the garage, get them involved and let everyone reap the rewards.