A Waste of Time – How (Not) to Reach Your Goals

Recently, I’ve made some progress on the browsergame I’m writing and told a friend of mine about that – a friend who always has been enthusiastic about games, online and offline.  He told me:

Isn’t that a waste of time?

I was quite shocked, as I think that I can’t use my private time much wiser than by training the skills I’m earning my money with, having fun on a project I like and maybe get something out of it at the end that I might like to play myself and maybe even get some money via advertising, to come up for the server costs. So the answer is clearly: no, it’s not a waste of time. But it got me thinking what a waste of time is in my eyes. To answer this question, I must first address this question:

What is meaningful?

My first definition is: Wasting time means that you do something meaningless instead of something meaningful.

Meaningful would be something, that you had to do anyways or that gives you something in the long term. This includes learning for your job, acting to reach or keep your desired familiy situation (dating, learn to know new people – or spending time with your family), working to develop your economic measures and grow your character.

Not meaningful would be something that gives you nothing in the long term. Watching TV, playing games, consuming drugs / alcohol / cigarettes, surfing the web, listening music, comsume sports in the media, sleeping (longer than 8 hours), watching funny stuff on YouTube, relaxing on the couch, … the list goes on.


Hobbies are a special thing here – basically because everyone will constantly tell you that some of those “WasteOfTime”-activities just are important for them, as the person is not fullfilled or not happy without them.

Using time on a hobby for some time of the day makes you happy and fullfilled in the long term – so if you would count computergaming or watching a certain TV series as a hobby, I’d say its meaningful – for a certain amount of time, where its not procrastination of other things, that are really important or that would have to be done anyways.

If you don’t do the other stuff, that would bring you forward, hobbies are a waste of time. Especially the behavioural pattern of acting out this hobby is addictive – as usual for World of Warcraft-playing or online addiction nowadays – then I would clearly brand this as waste of time.

What helps me and others in doing meaningful stuff is the Getting Things Done-methods, that clearly stress your long-term-goals. After formulating them, you should try to do one task that is connected with your goal every day – which makes sure you evolve. (btw.: At Abelssoft we”re developing a ToDo-application that will also help you developing your goals, I’ll update you on this one as there’s still a lot of development to be done)

Bonus: the Time Eater

My definition is of course only a subjective view on this topic – even if I think its pretty nicely thought out. In spire of this, for some people, the most useful activity is giving in into some drive, like being lazy, eating or watching TV or gaming or taking drugs all day. THAT is clearly a waste of time in my eyes.

Especially the TV set earns an honorable mention here: is a time-eating machine. Most people burn time in their TV – and a TV set already is declared as a necessity of life by law! And as I already said in a former acticle I wrote in german: Time is the stuff that life is made of. Its the most precious good there is. With time, you can have fun, generate money, live your dreams. So don’t burn it in the TV-oven. Some also use the TV in a meaningful way, but that usually means watching the news – which doesn’t take long anways.

Final Thoughts

Make a list. Define who you want to be, which character traits you want to develop or get rid of, define which kind of social (family?) situation you want, which goods you want to have (car? home?), what you want to reach (professionally, skills, achievements) and put all this on this list. These are your goals. Try to do one thing that gets you into this directions every day, before you give in to your drives. It might take years, but you will see success sooner than you think.

, Posted Saturday, May 22nd, 2010 under Philosophy.

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