On Wasting Time

I have a serious problem.

I admit it.

Like many people, apparently, I am easily distracted by the constant stimulation of the Internet.  Social media.  My email.  Various news sites.

I gave up Gawker for Lent one year.  This is before I started consulting, when I had a “regular” corporate job at a Fortune 500 company.  Even though I got all my work done, and did it well, I felt guilty that I just couldn’t stay away from it at my desk.

I’m sorry to say that since then, things haven’t gotten much better.

I know when I need to shut my laptop, detach from the smartphone. I want to be a good, healthy example for my kids.  But it is very hard.

I was reading recently about the dangers of extreme boredom.  In our day-to-day lives in our modern world, we are never bored.  We have the opposite problem.  We are constantly stimulated, constantly entertained.  For me, it might be the Drudge Report, Facebook, or painfully awkward band photos.  Little four-minute nuggets of distraction that add up to eat away large chunks of my days.

I have never heard my kids complain that there is nothing to do.  There is always something to do.  This summer, when they were not chasing each other, jumping on the trampoline, or drawing, they were playing Minion Rush on whatever electronic device happens to be within reach (and charged).

My husband sent me this TED talk a couple days ago.

The speaker, Ric Elias, recounts his thoughts as he confronted death on Flight 1549, the plane that crash-landed in the Hudson River in 2009.

He talks about regretting the time he wasted in things that did not matter.  For him, that was time spent arguing with people he loved, insisting on being right.

I think about what I would feel, heading silently toward the Hudson River.  Sad, as he does, not to be there as my children grow.  And a sense of — “wait, I’m not ready — I haven’t grown up enough.  I’ve wasted too much time.”

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