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50 RULES OF LIFE
Rule 17: Time is Precious--
Choose How You Use It

Rule 17: Time is precious--choose how you use it As an app developer I keep track of how people are using apps and what they want. It also helps me keep a pulse on how people think. An intriguing phenomena I've often seen are comments on gaming apps: “It's a great time-waster.”

Since the Excel At Life self-help apps take effort, I don't think they are very appealing to people who want to waste time. However, I often get comments about it being too hard. People seem to want change so they seek out the apps but are disappointed because personal change isn't easy. And yet, they are okay with a “time-waster” app. Or, wasting time with other activities such as television or gambling.

Why is that? As a person who finds time precious, I can't understand the concept of a “time-waster.” I can't even begin to do all the things I want to do with the time I have. Why would someone want to waste time? Of course, that doesn't mean I don't waste time—that's part of life. I can enjoy a good TV show but that's different that sitting in front of the TV like a zombie. It's just that I don't value wasting time.

I think it is important to come to terms with our concept of time. Instead of ignoring time and pretending we have all the time in the world, we need to think of time as a limited commodity like money and budget it. Of course, I understand that some people don't do that with money. But you can't borrow time. You only get what you have.

And I don't mean this in a hopeless way. I know some people with depression focus on how much time they have wasted and feel even more hopeless. However, I don't think battling a serious illness is wasting time. What I'm talking about is when someone chooses to waste time and values it as a good thing.

If, instead, we value time we may make different decisions. For instance, in my personal life, I don't have time for people who will bring drama into it. My friends and family enhance my life. Sure, there will be times when rough patches occur and they or I need support. But that's not the same as people who refuse to address their problems and bring misery to those around them.

Also, people often say they don't have time for healthy activities like exercise, relaxation, or proper sleep. But those are all things that can extend our time. So how can we not have time for them?

Think about your relationship with time. If you choose to waste time but don't have time for healthy behaviors, why is that? If you choose to spend time with people who hurt you or encourage an unhealthy lifestyle, why?

Most of the time, the answer is people don't want to do the hard work. It is easier to ignore the potential consequences of behavior and “time-wasters” help them do that.

However, wasting time comes at a price. According to Erikson's developmental theory, the last stage of development is in our older age when people look back over their lives and examine the choices they made. This stage is called “integrity vs. despair” because those who have wasted their opportunities feel anguish at their life choices.

Is that a price you want to pay?



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