Day 179: Wasting Time

In my post yesterday (which took me a LONG time to write, believe it or not), I was struggling with many things, including trying to create a pie chart to illustrate a point.

I’ve never created a pie chart before, so I was having the inevitable struggle of The New. I didn’t know what I was doing, I was trying different things, and I was making mistakes.

I was writing a post that was about frustration and impatience, and I was getting frustrated and impatient with myself and with many different Free On-Line Pie-Making Places.

I couldn’t get what I wanted. And what’s the natural, human response to not getting what you want? Anger, and all the different shades thereof (e.g., annoyance, frustration, irritability, peevishness, etc.)

So, while writing a post about a pet peeve — throughout the day and evening — I was getting peeved. And doing some ranting and railing at The Pie Chart Programs and their limitations (which did not make it to the post).

Finally, I just used the Pie Chart I Disliked The Least, so I could put the post to bed.

And I tossed off this statement:

Not the best pie chart, but I didn’t want to waste any more time on this.

I noted that immediately; I used language about “wasting” time. (Actually, my whole rant, yesterday, was about wasting time: re-listening to voicemail messages where people say their phone numbers too quickly.)

That’s ironic, because when I work with people as a therapist, I sometimes pose this question:

What if there were no such thing as time wasted?

(I tend to ask people questions like that. Here’s another one: “What if the concept of failure did not exist?

Perhaps, when I ask a question like that, I am an annoyer, rather than an annoyee.*)

I will repeat the question, to you: What if there were no such thing as time wasted?

What if, indeed?

What if every moment served some purpose, even if we weren’t aware of it?

Last night, at a group I was facilitating (with a co-facilitator I like very much, who will be leaving the group soon), we were talking about goodbyes, among other things. We were also talking about stress reduction.

One of the members said that she was making a lot of progress reducing stress. She brought in this book:


and she read a wonderful story from that book which had the title (or the moral) “It’s Not The End of the World.”

But, she said, there was one area that continued to stress her out.

Sitting in traffic.

Something that stresses lots of people out.

My co-facilitator, after the group was over, told me that she’d read somewhere that the #1 predictor of job satisfaction for people was ….

A predictable commute to work.

Not the length of the commute — one that was predictable. In other words, one where one knew what to expect. Where there weren’t fluctuations in traffic delays.

I want to brag about something, right here.

I have made a lot of progress in my life, letting go of stress about traffic.

I remember, about twenty years ago, giving advice about that to my then-business partner, Jonathan, as we were stuck in traffic on the way to pitch our advertising and marketing business to a client. He was talking about how much he hated traffic, and I said, “Why don’t we just pretend that we’re sitting on a couch somewhere, hanging out?” And it helped me, to picture “sitting in traffic” just that way. As another form of sitting around — one that you might choose.

This year, my commute to work does NOT meet the criteria cited by my co-facilitator. That is, the traffic — through some major thoroughfares to and through Boston — does fluctuate, quite a bit, from day to day.

But it doesn’t bother me.

What’s my secret?

  1. I usually leave enough time, in the morning, for most traffic permutations.
  2. If I don’t leave enough time, I have a “Plan B” (parking closer to work, eliminating my much-beloved morning walk).
  3. If I still haven’t left enough time, I can let people know I’m a little late.
  4. If I’m a little late, it’s not the end of the world.

And, last but not least:

5. Sitting in traffic does not feel like a waste of time.

Especial thanks, today — to group members, co-facilitators, and readers like you, who have all spent time with me.


* a made-up word, meaning “one who is annoyed.”

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Day 179: Wasting Time

  1. Gene Phillips

    A few years ago, I decided not to fret over whether I was in the “right” check-out line in the grocery store, or grind my teeth over how long it was taking the elderly person ahead of me to write a check. There is usually some sort of magazine on a nearby stand I can browse through.

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