It's OK to waste a little time (2024)

It's OK to waste a little time (1)

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Laura Vanderkam It's OK to waste a little time (2)

Laura Vanderkam

Writer, Author, Speaker, and Podcaster

Published Oct 30, 2023

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I strive to be efficient. I’m sure you do too. There’s something beautiful about a schedule where the work projects get done on time, the chores and errands happen expeditiously, family time and hobbies fit in, and there is still enough time for sleep.

That said, I’ve seen thousands of schedules in my years of studying time management, and I’ve never seen a week where all 168 hours were devoted to top priority matters. It just doesn’t happen. And that’s OK. Indeed, consciously wasting a little bit of time can even make you feel like the time equivalent of rich.

I’ve been thinking of this lately as a few things have changed in my life. First, my youngest child is getting older (as children do!) and he no longer needs quite so close supervision. He also now goes to a sitter’s house during the day for a few Saturdays a month. A key reason for this was so we could manage the older kids’ activities without carting him everywhere, but a side effect is that it makes Saturdays feel more relaxed.

At first, I felt pressure to use every open minute of this toddler-free weekend time very well. I would go to art museums and symphony matinees! I would do elaborate workouts and read multiple chapters in important books!

I do some of that. But when I truly absorbed that this was happening multiple Saturdays per month, and that I could sometimes read or sit on the hammock with the little guy around, I realized it was also OK to just chill. If a weekend wasn’t perfectly edifying, it was OK. There would be another weekend soon enough.

Now that’s not an excuse for total laziness, but as part of this reckoning I remembered that I also do spend a lot of time on my top priorities. I seem to be reasonably productive professionally. The household runs well. I do most of the things on my seasonal fun lists. It’s OK to waste a little time.

A generally smart schedule is the time equivalent of maxing out your retirement accounts and spending a low percentage of your income on set costs like housing. If you do those things, it’s OK to not watch every penny. Indeed, it can be quite fun to be a little profligate. Personally, I like going to the grocery store and buying the red peppers. They’re always more expensive than the green peppers, so I get a little thrill from feeling flush enough to spend the big bucks on vegetables.

Likewise, it’s OK not to watch every minute. If you are confident that the bulk of your time is spent on the good stuff, then you can scroll for a bit or stare at the ceiling. Indeed, such time profligacy just might make you feel flush. I have so much time I can even waste a little! Given that time is our most valuable resource, that’s not a bad mindset at all.

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1 Comment

Sebastian Bates

Founder at The Warrior Academy & The Bates Foundation | Operating across 7 countries in 4 continents | Sponsoring 4,000+ Orphans & Street Kids | Award Winning Entrepreneur | 2x Best Selling Author


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Absolutely, sometimes a little time extravagance can lead to the best moments!

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