Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Time Is Always On My Side

Integral Awakening has a great post up on what he calls "time yoga", or the art of using your time efficiently. Check it out.

Time yoga has been a big concern for me lately. During the past two years of my depression, I've engaged in more than my fair share of mindless Net surfing. Let me face facts: it was an addiction. It didn't help that I was contributing four to 10 times daily to two blogs. Even beyond that, however, I can't count the hours I wasted trolling political blogs, reading news sites, and Googling obscure trivia.

(Speaking of which, did you know that earwigs don't really crawl into your ear and lay eggs in your brain? Gah. Sorry. Old habits and all that...)

I've managed to pull myself out of this addiction largely through the method that IA suggests. I ask myself, whenever I find that I'm lolligagging, "Am I making the best use of my time right now?" Usually, the answer I get is, "You know it's not, skippy."

I've overcome the worst wastes of my time by confining my news surfing to 10-minute increments throughout the day, and foreswearing any and all political blogs. My next goal in the campaign to reclaim my time: keeping my email window closed, and only checking personal mail two or three times daily. I'm doing it s-l-o-w-l-y, though, lest the digital withdrawal send me into anaphylactic shock.

IA points out that valuing your time is a form of valuing yourself. If you're wasting your time on trivia, you obviously don't care that much for who or where you are. This was an eye-opening statement for me. For over two years, I wasted mucho time on my job. At the time, I told myself it was the company's fault. My job was unfulfilling, the company was making moronic decisions, etc. In reality, however, it was no one's fault but mine. I was disengaged, angry, and chock full of self-loathing.

So, note to self: Mindless Net surfing == downward slide into depression. Check.

Lately, I've found that posing the "Am I making the best use of my time" question is even more effective when I give it a bodhisattva twist. I ask myself: "Are my actions at this moment benefiting both myself and others?" Fundamentally, this is just an explosion of the word "best" in a spiritual context. For me, it helps to make that explicit, since historically my warped definition of "best" has been...well, let's just say not that beneficial to myself and others.

Comments:
Know watcha mean about wasting time on blogs. I am in the process of shutting mine down since I was always thinking about what my response would be to the responses to my posts, and their response to my response to their posts . . . !
Makes it real hard to meditate with this crap running thru. My mind seems to be able to run thoughts on its own without having to input this endless nonsense.
Seemingly, I am contributing to your thoughts on this subject, for which I am sorry. But had to respond to your words on the blog thing.
Perhaps I'm not healed yet!?
Peace, lyle
 
Nice post. I'm going to steal the "Are my actions at this moment benefiting both myself and others?" thing. I, too, spend a lot of time on blogs (gave up my political blog because it was consuming my life -- a literal addiction).

I'm going to post your question on my monitor as a reminder that if I am at my computer that I should be writing, blogging, or reading Buddhist/integral blogs -- but not for hours at a time and not just to fill empty space where otherwise I might have to feel my feelings.

D'oh!

Thanks,
Bill

PS - I moved to the desert a little over four years ago - to be with the woman I love. Still with her, so as much as I miss rain and fog, it was a good choice.
 
Jay, that's exactly where I'm at with time and wastage myself at the moment. I even have an explicit statement of intention that I repeat each morning. I've started keeping a time log, like they get you to so in time management courses, to try to increase my awareness of what I'm spending my time on.

Mindfulness, eh?
 
Tim: The time log is a good idea, Tim. I'm going to try that today.

goatman: I've found the "reply mentality" hard to control as well. When I feel my mind is running away with things like that, it helps to remind myself that I'm just one person in a world of 6 billion, and that my thoughts and opinions are but a shadow of the fraction of the Truth. Ultimately, what matters is that another person find Truth within themselves - not that I come off as sounding pithy and educated.

Bill: Glad you liked the slogan! :)
 
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