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Time, Well Wasted

Perhaps the only true productivity measurement worth taking

By Aaron PacePublished 5 months ago 4 min read
Time, Well Wasted
Photo by Kunj Parekh on Unsplash

I love baked salmon. I fell in love with it eating lovingly-prepared meals at my paternal grandmother’s table.

Unfortunately, she took her secret recipe to the grave with her. One thing I do know: no part of the recipe was hurried. Each filet was carefully seasoned by hand, wrapped in foil, and slow cooked to perfection.

Blue Lemon, a “fancy fast food” cafe in Salt Lake City, serves a pretty decent approximation to grandma’s salmon.

I always eat too fast.

My wife and I recently sat across from each other at Blue Lemon, once again enjoying the salmon. There was definite situational irony in that I devoured mine quickly while we talked about the frenetic pace of life. I sat and watched her savor each bite, tempted more than a few times to steal a forkful or two of her salmon.

On, over 226,000 posts have used the tag “Productivity”. Clearly Medium is a space where people come to both write and read about all things related to getting more done.

This is the curse of modern, technology-driven living. At no time in history have more people been able to get more done in a 24-hour day.

For thousands of years, the only way to travel from place to place was either on foot or horse-powered conveyance. That meant even on the fastest of horses, you could, at best, travel 40 miles (~64km) in one day. Now, many of us work more than 40 miles from where we live.

Where I live, the speed limit on freeways is 70 miles per hour (mph; roughly 110 kilometers per hour) inside city limits, but that’s still not fast enough for some people. They insist on speeding down the highway at 80 or even 90mph.

At 70mph, it takes 8 minutes and 34 seconds to travel 10 miles. At 90 mph, the same distance takes 6 minutes and 40 seconds. In an effort to save ourselves less than 2 minutes, we’ll risk our own lives and the lives of those around us.

2 minutes!

The comedian Brian Regan does a great bit about name brand toaster pastries being microwaved.

How long does it take to toast a Pop Tart? A minute and a half on the long side? There are people who don’t have this kind of time? Listen. If you need to zap-fry [microwave] your Pop Tarts before you head out the door, you might wanna loosen up your schedule. . .I think it’s time for a lifestyle change.

For certain, I am in the thick of the race:

  • I work full-time for a company so I can pay my bills and provide for a family of seven.
  • I’m in the throws of starting a software development company that’s building three platforms simultaneously.
  • I spend at least a little bit of quality time with my family daily.
  • I try (mostly fail) to be active in my community.
  • I write.
  • I run.
  • I sleep occasionally.

How many of you feel like you’re in a similar situation: racing from one thing to the next?

For what?

An important question I’ve asked myself a lot recently — and one I think anyone caught in the rat race should consider:

Am I making unnecessary sacrifices today because I’m trying to conform to someone else’s expectations of me?

You might be. You might not. Sometimes, to create great things in your own life, you have to cram as much as you can into a short space of time to get things done. Sometimes, we pit ourselves against this idea of a societal norm we’re trying to measure up to, and we don’t even know why.

I appreciate Sean D’Souza’s wisdom. He said:

Everybody seems to talk about work or life balance, but in reality, your life needs to be split up into two parts. One part consists of doing your work to the very best of your abilities. The other part is the time you waste with no regret and have no need to explain it to anyone.

The last sentence is the part that caught my attention. “Time you waste” has such a negative connotation to so many. For me, that’s certainly been the case. Even from a young age, I’ve always wanted to make the best use of the time I have.

It is important to use time wisely. We’ve got a limited supply. However, not every moment needs to be weighed and measured against a backdrop of “getting things done”. Life was never meant to be about that.

When it got dark, our ancestors didn’t often wander in the dark. Instead, they stopped, built a fire, and then they were present with each other. They told stories, nurtured relationships, or just sat in silence.

For them, that was time, well wasted.

The challenge for each of us in the frenzied speed of modern life is to do as Mr. D’Souza suggests and waste time “with no regret and. . .no need to explain it to anyone.”


Thanks for reading!


About the Creator

Aaron Pace

Married to my best friend. Father to five exuberant children. Fledgling entrepreneur. Writer. Software developer. Inventory management expert.

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