You're reading Sentences, etc., a design and development blog by Justin Michael.

Wasting Time

Have you ever wasted someone else’s time? I’m not talking about a few minutes, I’m talking about a half hour. Or an hour. Or even several hours.

It felt awful, right? You feel this wet, goopy, disgusting mix of a bunch of emotions: Worry that you’ve disrupted their day. Sadness that their opinion of you has been diminished. Disappointment that you could be so inconsiderate. A yearning to give them their time back.

The frustration of knowing that you never can.

That’s the thing about time: It’s limited, and there’s nothing we can do about it. I can’t transfer some of my time to you. None of us can do anything to make more time. Time is a fixed, limited, and unknown quantity for each and every one of us.

Thus, we do our best to avoid wasting other people’s time. We schedule things. We leave early so no one is waiting on us. We respect the fact that time is a limited resource when it comes to other people.

But what about your time? Do you worry about wasting your own time the same way you worry about wasting the time of other people? Do you treat your own time with the same reverence you would the time of another?

Before I started writing today’s entry I caught myself scrolling up and down my list of drafts, trying to pick one to work on. I kept telling myself that none of them felt right, it wasn’t the right moment for this one, I’m not in the right mood for that one. I was procrastinating.

I was wasting my own time.

When I realized what I was doing I immediately opened a new sheet and forced myself to write. The first few paragraphs I wrote were horrible, and no one else is ever going to see them, but those three paragraphs were, in many ways, the very best paragraphs I’ll write all day.

Those three paragraphs, as bad as they were, sparked some ideas. They made me think. They built momentum. This entry would not exist if it weren’t for those three paragraphs.

And those three horrible, wonderful, delightful, deleted paragraphs would never have existed if I hadn’t realized that I was wasting my own time, and realized how disrespectful I was being to myself.

Think about how you’re spending your time. Think about how you would be spending it if it belonged to someone else. Think about how bad you feel when you waste someone else’s time, and realize that you should feel even worse about wasting your own time.

Respect the time you have. Don’t waste a minute of it.