1. We tend to hand over our time mindlessly to nonessential things. This forces us to spend less time on what truly matters.
2. The first step to take back your time is to identify what’s essential and what’s not.
3. News is one of many nonessential things that gives you little value and happiness.
“It is essential for you to remember that the attention you give to any action should be in due proportion to its worth” — Marcus Aurelius
Time is precious. Perhaps more precious than money because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
Despite the fact, we treat time as if it’s unlimited.
We’re very stingy with money but not so much with time; we mindlessly hand over our time to activities that produce little value for us.
Why is that bad?
“Because the more time we spend on something, the more importance we give it. At the same time, what truly matters — family, friends, commitments, expressing the highest self — becomes less important because we spend less time on them.
By spending time on something, you give it importance.” — Jonas Salzgeber
So, how can we spend more time on what truly matters?
We have to say NO to nonessential things.
However, the problem is we often don’t know what’s essential and what’s not. We do things just because we’ve been doing it for a long time or other people do it.
As Seneca says:
“Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to realise how unnecessary many things are.
We’ve been using them not because we needed them but because we had them.
One of the causes of the troubles that beset us is the way our lives are guided by the example of others: instead of being set to rights by reason we’re seduced by convention.”
The point is that we have to use reason, not convention, to choose what to spend our time on.
Reading the news is a typical example of things we do just because it’s a convention.
Think about it. When do you actually use the information from the news? During conversations with your friends so you can appear slightly knowledgeable?
Does consuming the news actually make you happier?
The answer is most likely no because news is all about worrying about things outside our control, which actually makes you more stressed and anxious.
As Epictetus says:
“There is only one way to happiness, and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will”
Or do you have FOMO — fear of missing out?
Then you should know that the media treats every event as super important, even though most of them are not. Many scandals today won’t be covered again tomorrow.
We often fail to realise how precious our time is and how much of it we’re wasting on nonessential matters. Then we finally realise this when we near the 60s or 70s when our time becomes desperately short.
“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested.
But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activities, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realise that it has passed away before we knew it was passing.” — Seneca
How do we prevent that from happening?
We have to actively decide what to spend our time and energy on, based on our reason, not convention.
While there are many nonessential things that people spend their time — video games, porn, or Netflix — , cutting back on the news is one of the easiest and effective ways to take back your time so you can spend more time on things that truly matter.
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If you liked this article, I’d strongly recommend reading ‘The Little Book of Stoicism’ by Jonas Salzgeber. It’s a fantastic book that taught me so much about how to be emotionally resilient.