A Third of Each Year, Wasted

I remember one time, when I was in second grade, and my older sister Helen was still in high school, I learned how easy it is to waste your life. No, I’m not talking about drugs, or not pursuing your dreams, or anything big like that. It’s quite simple, really.

My mom is not a soccer mom. She never was and never will be. Both of my parents work, and for this reason, they never had time to sign me up for sports or other activities like that. And so, as an elementary schooler, I found myself with very little to do, but with a very large amount of time to do so over the summer.

As a result, my summer vacation consisted mostly of doing one thing: television. I watched and rewatched entire seasons of Friends, while gorging on chocolate (regret would eventually arrive with my cavities) as well as a shocking number of oranges. My mom jokingly teased that if she tested me on the lines from any episode, that would be one test I could ace, without a doubt. Um, actually, I probably could do so. Not recite, per se, but I did acquire the ability to say the lines before the actors themselves could. What a mispent youth.

Before I diverge on how much I regret not being physically active in my childhood for I believe it has a direct correlation with my less than adequate height, I must share with you what Helen told me. You see, those days in summer vacation, I was practically, no, literally, spending my entire day watching TV. Of course, my parents tried to persuade me to do otherwise, but I was (am still kind of am) such a lazy child. Anyway, one day, my sister approached me with a calculator in her hand and said, “Do you know how much time you’re wasting by watching TV?”

Well, I have nothing else to do… it’s only a couple hours. And it’s summer vacation.

“Looking at you, you are spending about 8 hours a day on TV time,” she said as she clicked away on her calculator. “Eight hours out of the 24 hours there are in a day.”

More clicking.

“So a third of each day, you’re wasting on the TV.”

Well, it’s just a third of a day.

“Meaning out of the 365 days in a year, you’re wasting a third of those on TV.”

Click-clack, and the final number on the calculator–she turned it toward me.

“You are wasting about 124 days watching TV. Not to mention the time gone from sleeping. Don’t you think there are better things to do with your time?”

I was stunned. It is really easy to waste time. And a few hours here and there really add up. I learned my lesson.

Years later, I am now on summer vacation again. I’ve been swimming or doing some form of exercise pretty much everyday (in fact, I swam 90 minutes again this morning), taken a public speaking class at a nearby community college, and started a blog. But so much time is still being wasted. On Tumblr, on Twitter, on Youtube, on reading celebrity gossip, on TV, on watching The Office, et cetera. Although I think it is worthwhile to watch the Olympics–come on, it’s where the best athletes in the world congregate every 4 years–AND I deleted my Facebook a while back (I may do a post on Facebook later on, actually), I never quite feel like my time is being fully utilized unless I am busy from morning to night. I am not a very busy person, so this happens only on the rarest of occasions.

So what can I do? I set goals for myself, and have such high hopes for the future, which I believe I can achieve, but lately I’ve been reminded of this message and realized once again that I cannot be a successful person if I spent entire days rewatching episodes of The Office. I love Steve Carrell but he’s not worth it. And I love Instagram, Tumblr, and in general, the Internet, but it is not worth it.

When feeling overwhelmed, I tend to make checklists for myself, listing off tasks I must complete the next day or by the end of the week. So right now, I know exactly what I’m going to do tomorrow. While my message to you readers is not to isolate yourselves from the things you love, I am saying that we should really take a look at the things that we are doing with our lives. What are you doing on a daily basis? How much time does it take up? Why are you doing it? Do you enjoy it? Do you have to check Facebook, Twitter, your email, etc. every 5 minutes?

And ultimately, is it really worthwhile?

If not, change it. You could be doing something much more productive with your time, such as catching up on the news or spending time with your family. Both are much better than Facebook. And both will be so much more beneficial in the end.

What are things that you are guilty of wasting time on?