Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
Tired of lying in the sunshine, staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long, and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun
“Time,” song by Pink Floyd
Albert Einstein forever changed the way scientists think about time. As much as time seems absolute, it is relative to the observer’s vantage point.
This insight transformed science itself.
Yet we still process time as if it were absolute.
Unless you are a rocket scientist, this faulty way of thinking about time has little impact on your daily life.
However, there are several other mistakes we make about time that can cause significant problems in our lives.
Here are seven of the worst of such mistakes.
1. Wasting Time
There are many ways we waste time.
Much has been said about this, and it still remains a big problem. Just reading the words “wasting time” causes a feeling of guilt about how we use our time.
Yet, there are even more dangerous mistakes.
2. Measuring Time in Minutes and Hours
There are moments each day that are more important than others.
The minutes we spend talking with a family member are more important than the hours we spend binge-watching what’s trending on Netflix.
3. Being Impatient for Results
Big projects require time: starting a business, getting fit, raising a child.
Time produces the greatest results when we take advantage of the power of compounding, repeating small changes daily that build upon each other.
We need to take the long view of our time investments.
4. Lack of Urgency
We sometimes make the opposite mistake, thinking that we have forever.
Life comes at us fast.
Dreams are forgotten. Plans get sidetracked. Children grow up.
5. Being Controlled by the Urgent
Not everything that is urgent is important.
Not everything that is important is urgent.
The urgent will crowd out the important unless we allocate our time and our attention to what is most important.
6. Wearing Busyness as a Badge
We complain about being busy.
But we perversely take pride in our busyness.
Somehow it makes us feel important.
We tell ourselves that there’s not enough time in the day. But we have the same 24 hours as everyone.
Being busy is a choice.
7. Misusing our Schedule
A schedule is a powerful tool. It can help us avoid some of the mistakes we make with time.
But it is easy for us to misuse that tool.
We need to build in flexibility in our schedule. Not all distractions are distractions.
Some are opportunities in disguise.
If we are slavishly following our schedule, we will miss those opportunities.
Remember, a schedule or to-do list is just a reminder of what was most important this morning.
I hope that the time you invested in reading this produces meaningful results for you. But that will happen only if you consistently use your time wisely.
Now available at Amazon: The Courageous Heart: Wisdom for Difficult Times in paperback and eBook.