Overcoming Attachment to Unproductive Activities
Bill could have contemplated on what he’d like to achieve each day. If he had meetings, he could have considered some of the points he wanted to make. He might have visualized having a pleasant lunch with a co-worker. He might have put on some classical music to ease his mind through the otherwise unforgiving rush-hour traffic. He has lots of choices in his life about how he spends all kinds of pockets of time.
So do you.
“But I’m not giving up television. There are some worthwhile things on TV, and I can turn it off whenever I want,” you rail against me. If you’re hooked and can’t admit it, perhaps you can at least admit it to yourself.
TEN-STEP PROGRAM FOR OVERCOMING ELECTRONIC ADDICTION ©JPD 1995
- Go a whole weekend without turning on a radio or television.
- Call your friends (both local and long-distance) one evening each week instead of watching television.
- Return to hobbies such as stamp collecting, gardening, or word games one other week night, rather than watch TV.
- Allow yourself to selectively watch two hours of programming each Saturday and Sunday for one month.
- Permit yourself one high-quality video each weekend during another month. The video has to inspire, inform, reflect history, be biographical, or otherwise socially redeeming. Stop watching “shoot-em-ups,” chase scenes, and films that add little to your life.
- If you walk or jog with an MP3 player or radio, undertake these exercises three times in a row without such a device.
- Recognize that rightly or wrongly, you’ve been programmed since birth to tune into electronic media for news and information, entertainment, and diversion. This is far from your only option.
- Look for others seeking to wean themselves from electronics. Is there a book discussion group? How about a bowling league, outing club, or biking group?
- Attend sporting events rather than viewing them on television. Watching a good high school baseball team or women’s collegiate tennis match can be as rewarding as watching major league baseball or Wimbledon. You visibly support the athletes by being there.
- Recognize that the number of DVDs, CDs, software items, and other electronic devices competing for your attention exceeds the time you have in life to pay homage to them.
The Cumulative Impact Of Doing What You Don’t Enjoy
Suppose that you graduate college at age 22 and work until age 70. Here’s a quick way to see that you need to delegate or cast off those things you don’t like to do. Any activity in which you engage for only 30 minutes a day in the course of your 48-year productive work life will take one solid year of your life! Any activity in which you engage for only 60 minutes a day will take two solid years of your 48. How can this be so?
One-half hour is to 24 hours as one hour is to 48 hours. The commutative principal of arithmetic reveals that this is so. Likewise, one hour is to 48 hours as one year is to 48 years.
A Simple Formula for Reclaiming Your Time
48 hours, as 1 year is to 48 years.
If you clean your house, on average, for 30 minutes a day, in the course of 48 years you’ve spent one solid year, non-stop, cleaning your house. This tells you that if you can’t stand cleaning your house — or engaging in anything else that you average for 30 minutes a day — stop. I don’t suggest letting your house become filthy; hire somebody to clean for you, clean it yourself less often, or find some other alternative. Why? Because the time in your life is being taken up. The cumulative impact of doing what you don’t like to do, is that your precious years are being consumed. You cannot reclaim consumed time.
“Well, that’s fine to pay somebody to clean the house, but ultimately, I’ll be paying people for all kinds of things I don’t like to do, just so I can have more time.” Yes! Exactly.
Identify those activities you currently handle yourself that could be handled some other way. What can you list as those things that you know you need to stop doing because they are taking up valuable time? Here are some suggestions:
- Cleaning the house
- Reading the newspaper (same paper) every morning
- Cutting the grass, any other yard work
- Fixing your car
- Reading junk mail because it’s addressed to you (I know many people who feel compelled to read junk mail, who think, “Hey, somebody took the time to send me this.”)
- Reading every god-forsaken e-mail message zapped to you
- Answering the phone
Let’s Not Confuse Issues
If you enjoy engaging in some of these activities, keep doing them. Perhaps you can do them a little less. Your goal is to delegate or eliminate those activities you can’t stand. Kevin Trudeau, a memory expert says, “Don’t manage something if you can eliminate it altogether.” Not bad advice.
When my contact lens routine became a bore — taking them off, cleaning them, lubricating them — I investigated having radial keratotomy so that I could have good vision all the time. Instead of having a system for handling my contact lenses, I sought to eliminate the need for them altogether. As it turns out, laser keratotomy, which is now being perfected, will be far safer, and so much more effective, that I decided to wait a couple of years before proceeding.
During the interim, I was able to save several minutes a day by switching to a new type of contact lens. My new lens is thinner, requires no maintenance, can be worn 16 or 18 hours a day with no irritation, and can be thrown away after several days. Yes, it costs a little more for disposable lenses, but the quality of vision and the freedom I have each day has been worth it.
So, what have you been putting off that you know would simplify your life?
- Simpler Living (Skyhorse Publishing)
- Dial It Down--Live it Up (Sourcebooks)
- The 60 Second Innovator (Adams Media)
- Breathing Space (CreateSpace)
- Accomplishing Your Goals (Smart Guide Publications)
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