Why do we feel rushed all the time? There is so much to do and never enough time to do it. How can we get more time to do what needs to be done and still be able to relax? The difficulty is not just the lack of time, it is that we do not use the time we have effectively. We keep getting in our own way, and that slows us down. We aren’t even aware that we are doing it.
We waste a lot of our time doing things that do not need to be done. Here are some common ways we waste time:
1) We waste a lot of time trying to prevent waste. Some learned long ago that waste is a “sin” and a sign of irresponsibility. This causes worry over being judged and being found guilty. We strive to prevent being found at fault because guilt is painful. We may act to try and avoid this pain by “preventing” waste. The trouble is no one can prevent anything. We can take reasonable precautions, but we cannot predict the future. So we fail and end up faced with the very guilt we sought to avoid.
2) We waste time trying to “prove ourselves”. Since we do not know what we are trying to prove or how much is enough, we will not know how to stop when we get there. We will overshoot the target and keep going. This is called “overcompensation”. This experience is painful and compels us to do more than the reality of the situation requires us to do. That is a waste of our time and effort.
3) We waste time trying to get the attention of others, to make them notice us. We believe we need their attention to validate our worth as a person and eliminate our self doubt. And self doubt is painful. We have never learned how to relieve this pain by validating ourselves. We could save a lot of time if we did.
4) We waste time engaging in power struggles over (a) who is right and who is wrong (b) who can make whom do what (c) who is superior and who is not. The one who “wins” gains control. The other loses control. This loss of control is painful. We may spend our lives trying to prevent the pain of losing control, without even knowing what control is or how to exercise it in a healthy way.
5) We waste time trying to relieve our anger by “getting even”. This results in others wanting to get revenge on us for our revenge on them. We are both wasting time and energy, which will never come back.
6) We waste time giving up in discouragement when we fail to solve a problem. We criticize our poor performance, as if that helps. It never does. It merely perpetuates our insecurity.
7) We waste time seeking to prevent predicted disaster in the future. “If I don’t finish this report tonight, my boss is going to yell at me.” We try to prevent this prediction. However, we are not fortune tellers and cannot accurately foresee the future. We are not taking a productive precaution based in reality. We are acting destructively, trying to prevent the painful outcome we have predicted. As a result, we become so anxious, we cannot finish the report.
8) We waste time assuming responsibility for people who are perfectly capable of assuming responsibility for themselves. We are not doing it for them anyways. We are indulging ourselves because of our underlying need to be needed.
9) We waste time waiting for the perfect time to act. But the perfect time never comes. We we end up making and remaking choices because they might not be the “right” ones. Since we don’t know what “right” is, we procrastinate.
Clock in a waste basket image available from Shutterstock.