You wait in line for something only to find out you were in the wrong line — even though you double checked several times before getting in line — or the store doesn’t have what you were waiting for.
You did a task only to find out it wasn’t necessary because someone else had already done it.
Communication wires get crossed, and as a result, you expended time and effort towards something when it wasn’t necessary.
We’ve all had those moments. And it’s common, in the immediate aftermath, to hear that inner voice that says,
Well, that was a waste of time.
Sometimes we even say it aloud, throwing it toward another person in a string of blame, positioning ourselves as the victim of someone who stole something from us, something we can never get back: Time.
I recently had a day where I was thwarted in my plan at every turn. The day included waiting in line for an hour only to learn I was at the wrong place, despite having confirmed the location in advance.
I noticed the voice in my head start to say that it was a “waste of time.”
And then a deeper wisdom reminded me:
It’s only time.
Perhaps, like me, you’re wondering: what about “your time is your life?” and “time is money?”
My inner wisdom reminded me that those beliefs are are conditioned mindsets.
Time is not life. Life is life.
Some people live full lives with little time and some people embody a physical being on this earth for a long time but never truly live.
And time is not money, unless you bill by the hour. And if you do, perhaps it’s time for a different business model.
Time is time. Money is money.
They are constructs. Merely forms of energy. And energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it can only be mutated and transformed.
Life is life. Breath is life.
Also: think about the last time you felt like someone or something caused you to waste your time? How much time did you spend being angry or outraged or telling people the story about the time you wasted? Probably more time than you originally thought was wasted.
And that is the true time-waster.
3 Tips to Shift Your “Waste of Time” Mindset
The next time you start to fall into the culturally-conditioned trap of believing that something was a “waste of your time,” try these strategies.
(1) Question the Belief
How do I know it was a waste of time? Who am I to judge that it was a waste of time?
When I start to fall into the “wasted time” trap, I remind myself that any such judgment is premature at best and based on incomplete evidence.
I don’t know the future, so I don’t have the whole story yet.
(2) Remember Who’s In Charge
The belief that something was a “waste of time” is intimately connected with the mindset we adopt when our plan gets derailed.
Remember: it’s not your plan that controls.
I remind myself that perhaps there was something for me to learn, or something I needed to see, some experience I needed to have to set me up for what’s next. There’s no way to know that in the present moment. I’ll only know looking back, when I connect the dots.
Maybe it will be revealed that the time I spent waiting in line or doing that task was exactly the plan, even if it wasn’tmy plan.
(3) Let Go of the Outrage
Finally, let go of the outrage and anger over having your time wasted. Shift my focus to something else.
When I start to get angry or aggravated, I remind myself that even if it was a waste of my time, what good does it do me to get aggravated about it now?
Getting angry over it is a waste of my energy, which is far more valuable than time. It’s also a waste of breath, and breath is life.