My parents were 100% correct about at least one thing in life: time does indeed move faster the older you get. As long as any one day may seem, weeks and months always fly by.

I used to find it entertaining when older folks would talk about their younger days, if only because I felt immune — immune to the acceleration of time. Now when I hear my grandparents reminisce about their 20s, I get a little anxious. I’ll be in their shoes much, much sooner than I think I will.

Stop Wasting Time

As my perception of time accelerates, I also become aware of just how temporary time is — my time, to be exact. I say this not to be depressing, but to be observant.

If our time is moving so quickly, and if it is constantly running out, so to speak, I think we best not waste it. But what does it truly mean to “waste” our time? Are all “wastes of time” simply overindulgences in certain pleasures, like sleeping too much or spending all day playing video games? Or can a “waste of time” be something more than that, something more impactful?

I’d like to share with you a couple of realizations I came to about the two biggest sources of truly wasted time in my life.

Anger That’s Out of Proportion

I have been, at times, an angry man. I’ve been prone to moodiness, road rage, and day-long grudges should an offense be great enough. I’ve gotten upset when someone cuts me off in traffic. I’ve gotten unduly frustrated when social plans didn’t go my way. I’ve had to walk away far too many times following an argument because I was afraid I might say or do something I might come to regret.

But as I think about time, about the universal clock ticking away seconds of my life, I have to wonder if getting upset — or if having a temper, even — is worth it.

Of course, I’m human after all, so I can’t expect to stay level-headed in every single situation. Sometimes, getting upset is a natural and normal reaction. However, I think the extent to which I have sometimes gotten upset — relative to the offense that spurred my temper — has been lopsided.

It must be remembered that getting angry is just a reaction, nothing more. Anger is a response to frustration that solves nothing, and it isn’t meant to. Remaining angry longer than one needs to accomplishes nothing positive, but it does, however, stress you out. Stress, when abundant in your life, is terrible for both mental and physical health.

Prolonged anger also hurts those around you, particularly if it’s directed at a close friend or loved one. There are few worse feelings than a multi-day cold shoulder from someone whom you love. And though it’s a bit dramatic to consider, what if something terrible happens to the loved one whom you’re ignoring? What if their last impression of you is anger and silence? What has your temper accomplished in that case?

I’ve made a conscious effort to no longer get more upset than any given situation warrants. Doing so lends no utility to my life. If anything, it saps valuable time away from my life that could be better spent forgiving, loving, or compromising.

Getting Too Caught Up in What Others Think

“Nobody really cares.”

This is a piece of advice that’s been given by grandparents and older relatives for decades. Personally, I think I always understood what it meant on a conceptual level; likewise, I agreed with it — in concept.

Most people are indeed too busy with their own temporary time on this earth to care much about what you’re doing at any given moment. This, combined with the fact that most people have relatively poor memories, means you don’t really have a concrete “impression” to uphold. As long as you act normal 85% of the time, people will see you as such.

However, when you’re a young adult in the golden age of social media, it’s one thing to understand the concept that nobody cares, and it’s another thing to try and live by it.

But since cutting out most social media (another waste of time that falls in the “overindulgence” category), I’ve tried to take to heart the phrase “nobody cares” a little bit more. I’ve tried to both understand it and put it into practice.

That doesn’t mean that I now neglect personal hygiene, etiquette, or general social norms. I still want to fit in, after all. But, as a naturally anxious person, I’ve tried to remember that the little things aren’t worth worrying about.

Nobody notices that you’ve worn the same shirt twice in the same week, and if they do notice, I doubt they judge your whole life based on that occurrence. Awkward moments and minor slips of the tongue happen every single day to pretty much everyone. People tend to be pretty understanding (and they also tend to forget about the whole thing in a few days’ time).

As I see it, to most people outside of your loved ones and very best friends, you’re basically a side character in the movie that is their life. Sometimes you pop up on-screen and provide something valuable or interesting, but most of the time you’re off-screen and mostly forgotten about.

There are many things to worry about in life, but I’ve come to find that worrying about the impressions others have of you is a bit of a waste of time. Obviously, combating general anxiety is a little more complicated than a change of mindset, but I think it’s a step in the right direction.

What Wastes Your Time?

What issues or struggles in life waste your valuable time? Keep in mind that it’s all subjective — perhaps you don’t have issues with anger or social anxiety. Or perhaps you do, but other personal struggles consume more of your time and energy.

Identifying the major time-wasters and taking steps to address them are the major keys, I think, to optimal living. We all deserve to have a bright outlook of our time left on this earth, one free from the needless distractions that waste our time.

Photo by Rachael Crowe on Unsplash
Times moves quickly. As we age it seems to go quicker and quicker. Zach Morgan shares some personal realizations and implores us to stop wasting time.