9 Ways You Are Wasting Your Precious 692,040 Hours

It can be exhausting if it’s all you spend your time doing

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Photo by Erik Lucatero on Unsplash

You have, according to this article, you have a total of 692,040 hours on planet Earth. In the midst of a global pandemic, it seems an opportune time to re-evaluate life a little. To take stock of where we spend our time and where we have energy leaks (i.e. things that drain us that add little benefit).

Of course, they’re lots of things that we adore to do and that bring us immense value but I have a sneaky feeling that we sometimes the balance wrong.

We find ourselves doing more of the stuff we don’t love and less of the stuff we do. I’m not sure quite where along the way it happens but it inevitably does. Often after a long day, we ask ourselves, why did I spend my time thinking about that today? Frustrated, you agree (with yourself) to not do it again. Only to repeat the very next day.

Here is some perspective on things that are not worth your time.

#1 Wishing to be elsewhere

If you are spending any more than a minute wishing you were on a beach in Spain, had a house with a pool or strolling through Central Park it’s a waste.

It’s a waste because simply dreaming about being there won’t get you there.

Of course, we all glance out the window now and then and wish for a better view or that the weather was a little fairer.

However, you are ultimately in control of where you are and where you are going. If you want a house in Spain or to be strolling through Central Park (and I mean if you really want to) figure out a way to get there and execute on that plan.

#2 Wishing to be someone else

“Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.” — Steve Jobs

We can all mindlessly scroll through Instagram, click on the most attractive, scenic, fancy photo and think:

“Look at their life, they look so happy, I wish I was that happy”

Instagram is a filtered world. Full of product placements, fake smiles and optical illusions to make life seem much shinier than it really is. Don’t get me wrong, I believe there is some truth in those smiles but do I believe those smiles are painted on 24/7, 365 and that these people don’t have the same doubts, worries and pains as us mere mortals? No, I do not.

Wishing to be someone else is a waste of time on two accounts. Firstly, by simply wishing, you won’t become them anyway, no amount of wishing will turn you into Kylie Jenner.

Secondly, you are acting as if you don’t have full control of your life. The most successful people on this planet are people. They are the same breed as you and me. If they can do it, we can do it.

So if you want to, do what they do, don’t wish.

#3 Worrying About Things You Can’t Change

“Stop worrying about what can go wrong, and get excited about what can go right.” Anonymous

There is so much in our control. What we put in our bodies, how we move, what we say, how hard we work, the habits we cultivate.

Worrying about things that haven’t happened yet seems a total waste when you can control so much. We often find ourselves whittling about that meeting or what someone might say to you.

Truth is, so what? So what if someone asks you a question at the meeting and you don’t know the answer? Say you don’t know. Better, say you don’t know and you’ll find out. Or if it’s a stupid question, ask them why they asked.

Most of the stuff we worry about never comes to fruition. We sit worrying and waste days agonising on things that simpler are never going to happen. The truth is, we don’t know what might happen and we certainly can’t control it, so why worry?

#4 How You Look to the Outside World

You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do! — Olin Miller

We want to be liked. It’s human nature in us. Once upon a time, we would form part of a tribe. If we were kicked out of that tribe then we would struggle to get food, find shelter or a mate. The tribe would work together to hunt and gather.

As a collective.

Wanting to be liked is part of our history, beneficial for our survival.

We don’t work like that anymore. You are solely responsible for your income. You find your own food. Sure, it’s wise to make friends at work, to influence people, to manage your stakeholders.

Obsessing that you come across smart, witty, engaged or whatever is perhaps the quickest way to do the exact opposite.

#5 Thinking You Don’t Have Enough Time

I’m 25. I’d found writing a year or so ago when I started writing a book. A bible of what happens in the workplace to pass down to newbies entering the world of work. As a way to educate the ill-informed.

However, I quickly realised that I would have no audience to sell it too. Somewhere between last March and now, I found Medium. I’ve been writing on Medium for all of 6 weeks now and I’ve loved every minute of it.

Although, sometimes I find myself feeling like I don’t have enough time.

As if by 27 it’ll be all over and I will have failed to make my mark on this world. I’d feel frustrated that I’ve only just found the thing I really enjoy doing and that it’s too late to really make a go of it.

By 27 I will have my whole life ahead of me. By 50 I will have my whole life ahead of me. It doesn’t matter what age you find your ‘thing’. Life is about being curious and having fun along the way.

No amount of time will feel enough.

#6 Looking at numbers to justify your success

There are so many numbers in this world of ours. The number of Instagram followers, the number of likes on a post, the number of reads an article has gotten, the number of zeros in your bank account.

If you’ve got enough to cover what you like to do. If you’re spending your time doing more of what you love and you are being present and enjoying life, why does an extra follower matter?

#7 Buying Things That You Don’t Need

“The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.” ― Chuck Palahniuk

We are so lucky. Most people these days can afford, within reason, pretty much whatever they want. New car? Get in on finance. New kitchen? Get a loan. New phone? Get a new contract.

But a word of caution. A new car will still get you from A to B. A new kitchen will still produce the same food. A new phone will still be able to call and text.

Unfortunately, we have entered a world of over-buying. What happened to have things until they broke. What happened to spending money on experiences or saving for the things you really wanted?

Time spent on agonising over upgrades is time wasted, you’ll still be able to do the things you want regardless of a new BMW.

#8 Impressing People You Don’t Like

Care about people’s approval, and you will always be their prisoner. — Lao Tzu

If you don’t like someone, that’s okay. If they don’t like you, that’s okay. There are plenty of people in this world for a few to not get on. In fact, it makes evolutionary sense that we wouldn’t all get on. Imagine the size of the parties if the whole world liked each other.

If you don’t like someone, you don’t need to spend any time impressing them. By impressing someone you don’t like you’re creating the opposite of the desired effect.

Time spent impressing people that you aren’t impressed by in theory takes you back a few steps.

#9 Moaning and complaining

“Those who complain about the way the ball bounces are often the ones who dropped it.” — Unknown

This one is hard but it’s so true. If I can write this and you can read this, it means we’re doing alright in life. It means you’ve got a phone or a laptop and an internet connection.

That means you’re better off than quite a few folk in the world. Moaning and complaining are fine once in a while. It’s okay to vent and have a bad day.

However, if you find yourself moaning and complaining more often than not, it might be a sign that something needs to change.

Time spent moaning or complaining and doing nothing about it is time ill-spent.

Things That Are Worth Your Time

So what are the things are worth investing in? The things that give back when you give energy to them? The things that enrich our lives not take anything from it?

  • Creating a positive mindset
  • Time spent figuring out who you are
  • Cultivating habits that last a lifetime
  • Learning something new
  • Spending time with the people you love
  • Practising gratitude
  • Writing, for no other benefit than to explore your thoughts
  • Creating
  • Exercising

The world is so abundant. You can be whatever you put your mind too. We have the choice to create the world we want to be a part of.

Science-led self-help. BSc Biomedical Science, studying MSc Behavioural Science.

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