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Making The Most Of The Moments

Have you ever wanted to write a book, but could never find the time to get started? Or study a course, but never managed to sit down to do it?

Our lives are frantic. There’s less time available to do an ever greater number of critical tasks. So how do we ever get around to do what we thirst to achieve in life? Well, one way is to make the most of the moments you DO have. By this, I mean those scraps of time that we esteem so little and throw away without a second thought. Rather than try to block out large amounts of time for your dream project, and never actually getting around to doing it, you can make use of the scraps that crop up here, there, and everywhere.

Here’s the truth of the matter. Even a few minutes here or there adds up to a LOT of time. If you don’t believe it, here are some examples… If you spend just a total of 90 minutes a day commuting to and from work, that adds up to 21,600 minutes (allowing for four weeks holiday), which is 360 hours, or 15 DAYS of 24 hours! Now, just imagine how much you could learn if you did nothing but study a subject day and night for 15 days! Or, if you want to be easier on yourself, those 21,600 minutes work out to 45 days, working the hours from 9 to 5.

What could you do with all that time? How many books could you read? How many audio courses could you listen to? Your journey to and from work could be used like a sort of mobile university, IF you have the mind to do it. This is why it is sheer folly to either (a) be doing nothing on your commute to work, (b) be listening to your car radio, (c) be just reading the newspaper. Sure. You can just flake out and do some of those time-wasting activities every now and again. However, just imagine what you could feed your mind with if you set about it.

Personally speaking, when I was doing a daily commute, I would always take books or audio courses with me. What if you would like to write a book? Well, if you take the train to work, why not spend that time working on it? A journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step. There is at least one famous novelist who began by scraping the time from daily commute to work. A number of successful writers have launched their careers in this manner; scribbling down their novel or screenplay during 15 minute scraps of time whenever they cropped up.

Time is a precious commodity, and you need to use it wisely. For instance, you can often do two things at the same time. If you have to do some boring administrative task, e.g. a visit to the post office or some other place where you know you might have to hang about (a doctor’s waiting room is another example), why not prepare for it? Why not take a book or audio course with you?

Ask yourself this question. How much unproductive time do you spend standing in queues in post offices, government administrative offices, and so on? If you are like most people, the answer is, a LOT! Why not plan for these occasions by always carrying something to learn and engage your mind with?

It’s how you used your unplanned time that can make the critical difference in your life. We all have unplanned time. So why not plan to use it from now on? For instance, when I take my car to the mechanic, I often end up hanging around the place for over an hour. It’s a major drag, and I sincerely wish that I could find someone to pay to do it for me. However, I have come to terms with the problem by always taking a book to study. That way, no matter how long it takes them to get around to me, my time was not wasted. I don’t have to just stare at piles of tires and wrecked cars.

Here’s another statistic to ponder. If you spend just two hours a day watching TV (and most people watch more), that adds up to 720 hours a year, which is 30 solid 24-hour days. Yes, really. And that’s just in one year. Over a ten year period, you have been watching TV for the equivalent of 10 months, non-stop! That is why some of the most successful business people do not have a TV in their house. It’s a telling statistic that satellite TV is mostly found not in the most affluent homes, but in the least affluent.

Financially successful people have better things to do than spend their spare time watching TV. For them, “time is money”. However, people who DO have lots of time to waste in front of their TV don’t, as a rule, become very successful at anything. This is not an argument against TV. However, it is an argument in favor of counting the time you spend, and where you spend it.

Try to cut back on time-wasting activities, and focus more hours on doing things that take you forward towards your dreams and goals. You can become more aware of how you spend/waste your time by keeping a daily log for a week. Simply record every quarter hour on paper, like a calendar, and then record next to each time slot exactly what you did during that period. The results will surprise and shock you. You will probably stop making the excuse that you “have no time” for this goal or that dream.

The fact is that you can make the time for what you want, IF you really want it badly enough. But do you?… In summary, time is THE most important commodity we possess. It’s more important than money, although few people see it that way. Learn to respect it and use it wisely. Learn to squeeze more productivity out of each minute, simple by being ingenious and wise in your use of it. You can waste your time, through lack of awareness, and wonder where it all went. Or you can use it wisely.

Remember that the richest and the poorest man in the world both have the same number of hours in the day. It’s how you use those hours that makes all the difference.

About Asoka Selvarajah

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6 comments

  1. This article is so true. I had a friend in college who was a 4.0 student in electrical engineering (I was not and far from it). It was the last day of classes before spring break started and we were waiting for the bus. While I was standing there bored and looking around, my friend was doing homework at the bus stop, and we did not have classes for another 9 days! It is so true about using those little bits of time. My only question is how to break 39 years of negative conditioning that causes me to waste time. The friend I spoke of was raised in a home where he could not do anything after school until his homework was finished. His parents taught him the value of time. The life he led of not wasting time was not hard work for him because he was conditioned that way. That was just the way it was for him…kind of like how it is not hard for a bird to fly; because that is what birds do. How can we get that conditioning that my friend has had since childhood?

  2. Dear Asoka,

    Thank you for your wonderful article about the value of time. It’s so true that many people spend a lot of time doing worthless things.
    Your article is an eye-opener. It’s embarassing to admit that I myself have wasted a lot of time before I finally wrote my first book.
    I’m a freelance writer and have been contributing articles to a local newspaper here in our place.
    But it took me years of constant procrastination,always finding excuses not to write. And now that I’m getting old, I rue the days that I could have written more books if only I had the persistence and the determination to do so.
    Writing was my cherished ambition since I was young, but since I got married and had seven children to raise, I set aside my dream and devoted my time to my family.I only wanted to give my children a bright future. And now that their future has come, I found myself getting old.
    In truth, I didn’t really waste my time by taking care of my family but I could have squeezed some minutes of every day, as you said, and it would have amounted to a lot of time for me to write.

    Thanks again, Asoka, for your invaluable advice.

    I’m sure many of your readers will benefit a lot from this article of yours.
    Keep up the good work, and may God bless you always.
    Soly

  3. I’ve read so many things trying to say the exact same thing, but it was so helpful to read it in such a concise way. It is so true and gives me more motivation to try and find those fleeting minutes throughout my day to do something more contructive. I just had my first baby and was beginning to get depressed that I would never have time for myself and my goals again, your article came at the perfect time. Thanks!

  4. Yes thats a wonderful artcle,it has awakend me on different things I do wasting time. Its no joke visiting a mechanic and tells you to wait an hour to fix the car the hour may turn out to be 3 hours and one may be ‘forced’ to drink beer to while up time. What a waste of time.

    Thank you Asoka

  5. Another great points made here. I’ve read a good number of time-management related articles, but this one is from some unknown reason particulary convincing. Maybe because it pays good attention to the human side(why to spare the time), not only the technical “how to” side.

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