Time to stop wasting time… and appreciate this precious life.

Time to stop wasting time… and appreciate this precious life.

While working with my book keeper, Coleen, this morning I was reminded again how important it is to ask for help when we need it or when we recognize that to do a task would be a waste of our precious time and precious life. To be truthful, in the past I’ve wasted a lot of my precious time trying to do something I just didn’t have enough information/capability/talent to do, but thinking that I should be able to do it because… I’m smart, I can do other tasks, I’ve done difficult things before… Or because I tell myself that I have more time than money.

Do you find yourself with these kind of thoughts… and then take these kind of actions… the time wasting actions?

To those of us in midlife and beyond, it’s important that we face the truth about how precious our time and life energy is. 

Unless I spend time/energy on things that I really want to be doing or learn how to do, I need to carefully consider either getting help or letting the activity go. There are a few questions I ask myself in order to decide – sort out what I do or don’t do – I call them the “sort” questions. Here they are:

  • Does this task use my creative genius energy? This category involves what I do best, what I lose my sense of time doing, what I gain a deep sense of satisfaction from. Gay Hendricks, in “The Big Leap” identifies 4 categories that we all need to know about in ourselves. They are our Genius, our Excellence, our Sufficient, and our Incompetent. The idea Gay develops is that we want to be spending the majority of our time in our genius and our excellence, smaller amounts in our sufficient and none at all in our incompetent where time is wasted. (I thought about it this morning while working with my bookkeeper because I am incompetent at keeping my QuickBooks and am so glad that she does an excellent job at it for my tax preparer. Money used to pay for these services is well spent and frees my time for creating workshops, writing, networking, planning other creative projects, and other income generating activities.)
  • Is this something I really want to do, like to do, enjoy doing? In this category are tasks that make my personal life and relationships harmonious like making myself a great pot of soup or writing notes or emails to friends and family, caring for my grandchildren plus the enjoyable activities of my professional and work life.
  • Is this activity something that will make my daily life easier with just a few minutes of attention? This includes organizing – my desk, my emails, my space – for the day?
  • In doing this activity will I learn something I want to learn or need to learn to serve my life and those I love? This can be a trickier category as there might be a learning curve with some difficulty that might look like incompetence. For example, learning something new in my Windows 7 program that makes my writing activity easier would fall into this category.

There probably are some other questions that you use to help yourself do this. I just want to make sure that you consider the importance of doing it. At the end of one of my favorite “reminder” poems – the kind of poem that reminds me how to live – Ezra Bayda says “

And when the veil of separation rises,
Life simply unfolds as it will.
No longer caught in the self-centered dream,
We can give ourselves to others,
Like a white bird in the snow.
Time is fleeting.
Don’t hold back.
Appreciate this precious life.

About the author

Suzanne Kilkus

Suzanne Kilkus is a Soto Zen meditation practitioner and teacher and has practiced as a therapist and counselor for over three decades. She is dedicated to assisting people in expanding their capacity for giving and receiving love, and for recognizing and expressing their basic goodness in everyday life. Her path to live with wholehearted compassion and care is an invitation to everyone. She is a teacher with Open Door Zen Community in Madison, WI.