This is advice that I’m still learning to take. Advice that Instagram, specifically, makes it really hard for me to follow. Advice that would make my life more productive and HAPPIER if I followed it the majority of the time? I should be doing my damnedest to take that advice and apply it. Liberally.
Caitlin, killing time is a waste of time. Killing time is a WASTE of time.
I do pretty well. I don’t have games on my phone, I don’t go window shopping to fill a gap in my day, and I’ve always got a book in the car.
But INSTAGRAM, man. Instagram gets me. I follow so many women that I respect and admire, and I just want to see what they’re up to! And, to a certain extent, I need to be active on Instagram. I’ve gotten new readers to this Little Blog That Could from Instagram, I’ve made new friendships, and I’ve learned new tips. Instagram is an awesome space for knowledge growth and community. But it’s also an unholy time suck.
Because here is the hard truth: every minute that I waste on Instagram is a moment that I could be spending on myself or my work or my marriage.
We tell ourselves that we don’t have time, but we do. We’re just allocating that time the wrong way.
It’s called killing time for a reason. I’ve only got so many hours in each day, and I should be using those hours to their fullest, not killing a single one of them.
Do not get me wrong: leisure time is invaluable and indispensable. World domination is only possible if you take time to rest on the way. But this is where I really screw up: I waste the time I could use for purposeful leisure on mindless scrolling. I may be really, really up-to-date on messy Real Housewives drama, but I don’t have any time to read my book today.
I feel the most fulfilled, relaxed, and productive when I plan intentional time to decompress. Not killing ten minutes of time before the laundry is ready to be switched, not killing an hour before I meet my friends for drinks. There’s a big difference in my mood when I am spending the time in a way of my choosing, not in a way that happens to me.
If I know I have an hour between work and meeting friends, I’ll often bring my laptop so I can get writing done during that time. Or I’ll bring my book. Because I would rather spend that time doing an activity of my choosing, not scrolling on my phone.
Just like I plan out the rest of my day, I build in time for relaxing, watching T.V., reading my book, whatever. Maybe that means I’m no fun, but I know you all know me better than to think I care about that. I may be too structured or too busy or too un-fun, but so what? Who am I trying to impress?
MYSELF, that’s who. I’m trying to be the best version of me, and the best version of me doesn’t kill time. She uses her free time in a way that actually feels restorative and enjoyable. This can include Instagram (but with a timer set so I can’t get sucked too far into the hole), reality T.V., and Pinterest, but it should include more reading. My Goodreads goal for the year is to read 50 books, which is totally doable, but only if I make the time to read!
Scheduling time to relax is also very motivating to me. Knowing that I have an hour or two of solitude in the evening waiting for me (but that I can only have it if I cross off those deadline items) makes me work harder and more efficiently. Chipping away at that relaxation time with ten minutes here and there on Instagram ultimately means that I enjoy my day less.
When I kill time, I’m wasting my day. Life isn’t made up of what I do occasionally, it’s made of what I do consistently. And if I’m consistently wasting my day? Ugh. UGH! There are too many things I want to do. Too many experiences I want to have. Too many words I want to write.
Using time wisely is the greatest asset. People who are more successful than me, fitter than me, with stronger marriages than me — they’re not better than me. They’ve just spent more time perfecting their craft. Time is the secret. And I’m wasting those opportunities to be better when I kill time.
So, no, nope, I don’t believe in killing time. It makes me cringe when I hear the expression. Sure, maybe the movie doesn’t start for an hour. Is there an errand you could check off the list? You’re twenty minutes early to an appointment? Read the article you bookmarked on your phone last week. Ten minutes between meetings? Ok, that’s the perfect chunk of time to watch some Instagram stories. Or you could go over your plan for the week and assess your to-do list. Ten minutes are as valuable as you make them.
The difference between killing time and using it well can be so small. As with everything on this site, it’s about intention. It’s about doing the things you have to do so you can do the things you want to do.
Because, ultimately, the life I want isn’t going to just happen. I have to build it. For myself. And there’s no time to waste.