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Are We Wasters of Time? as published in Home Magazine, (January, 1933)


"Are We Wasters of Time?"

On the first day of the New Year, when good resolutions are in order, it might be well for us to consider whether we have been time-wasters, and what is to be done about it.

Time is one of the things we possess. Our success depends on the right use of it.

The difficulty of the right use of time lies in the nature of time itself. It is not easy to make the best use of anything without knowing how much of it there is to use. We know that we have only a limited time at our life's disposal, but we have no means of discovering where the limit lies; so we are apt to spend our time extravagantly on trivialities, as if our portion of it were unlimited.

The bulk of our time is mapped out for us by circumstance. After eight hours have been given for the task of earning our daily bread, eight hours for sleep and two or three more for meals, there is not much of a day left that we may call our own to do with as we like. All the moe careful should we be in the use we make of the precious remnant.

But what about the odd moments? Some of the men who have moved the world forward were men who used the odd moments wisely. Edison, for instance, was hammering away at a telegraph key-board when he was a telegraph operator on a small salary. He did not waste the odd moments; he thought and planned and tried between messages to perfect the instrument.

Benjamin Franklin, in his autobiography, tells how in a hundred different ways he made the odd moments useful and profitable.

Charles Darwin's ill-health rendered it impossible for him to work more than a half an hour at a time. Yet in many half-hours he laid the foundations of a new philosophy that has changed the thought of the world.

What we do in the odd moments is not only likely to be pleasant, it is likely also to stimulate our minds and bring to us out of the every-day routine new ideas that may be turned to our profit or to the benefit of others.

Of course there is another side to the proper use of time. There are many more ways than one of wasting time. Doing too much may be as spendthrift of it as doing too little. Feverish activity, without due regard to quality or relevance, may be as great a waste of time as idleness. The fussy woman not only does needless things, she also does things that must be done over.

Time can be active as well as passive. It can waste as well as be wasted. It is capable of ravages, and its revenges are very cruel. But I think we shall all agree that we should not "kill time" or spend it in anything that conscience or common sense tell us is sheer frivolity or meanness. At lease we should endeavor to use our leisure time so as to get all we possibly can out of life. The persistent time-waster must not be surprised if sooner of later she finds herself echoing the lamentation of Tithonus,

"Thy strong Hours indignant work'd their wills,
And beat me down and marr'd and wasted me."

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