How do you spend your time? It’s a question worth asking yourself now and then – especially on those days when it seems that there aren’t enough hours to accomplish even half of the items on your to-do list.
I might be the last person on earth who should be dispensing time-management advice of any sort. When it comes to time wasting, I am no slouch, thank you very much. On the other hand, perhaps that’s what makes me (almost) qualified to write about time management.
On a recent Saturday morning, I was in rare form. How did I spend my time? To answer that question, all you have to do is take a peek at my Web search history.
A little context: I’d been watching the Indians play the White Sox on TV, and there was an interview with White Sox skipper Robin Ventura. He seemed like a fairly intelligent and articulate guy in the interview. That made me think about a time when he did something not-so-intelligent (charging the mound after Nolan Ryan plunked him on the back), and I felt compelled to watch it.
1:13 p.m. – Google search: "Robin Ventura vs. Nolan Ryan"
1:13 p.m. – YouTube: "Nolan Ryan and Robin Ventura confrontation. FIGHT 1993"
At this point, I must have paused to reflect on the ridiculousness of baseball fights. There's very little actual fighting; it's a lot of flailing, bear hugging and people trying to pull people away. With that said, I have to admit that the Ventura-Ryan skirmish was pure magic. Ventura, a fine third baseman, clearly was caught up in the heat of the moment. No one in their right mind would have attacked the 10-foot-4 Ryan. The confrontation, as it unfolded, looked like something out of the World Wrestling Federation.
Lest you come away from this blog kicking yourself for wasting your time, here's an idea: You could use the Robin Ventura-Nolan Ryan incident as a cautionary tale to teach workers about making smart, safe decisions. If Ventura – a two-time All-Star – would have taken a moment to think things through, he could have avoided putting himself in a hazardous situation. The incident is tailor-made for a safety campaign (a good title might be "What was he thinking?"). But I digress.
1:21 p.m. – YouTube: "[email protected] Roger Clemens beans Mike Piazza"
1:22 p.m. – YouTube: "Pedro gets plunked. Pedro charges the mound."
At this point in my web chronology, it should be obvious where I went next:
1:23 p.m. – Google search: "Don Zimmer vs. Pedro Martinez"
1:23 p.m. – YouTube: "Yankees-Red Sox Brawl 2003 ALCS"
As someone who hates the Yankees and Red Sox, I like nothing better than watching the two teams try to wipe each other off the face of the planet. But it was sad to see what happened to Don Zimmer – a man who spent all 184 years of his life involved in the game that he loved so well.
From that point, I spiraled. That’s all I can say.
1:26 p.m. – YouTube: "NOLAN RYAN VS BO JACKSON (bloody lip)"
1:27 p.m. – YouTube: "The Top Ten Weirdest Fights in Sports History"
1:30 p.m. – YouTube: "Best Mascot Fight Ever (VERY FUNNY)"
1:30 p.m. – YouTube: "Famous Chicken gets beat up by the opposing team!"
1:31 p.m. – YouTube: The Famous San Diego Chicken and little chickens"
According to my web history, my browsing session ended at 2:07 p.m., after I caught up on the latest local sports news. It’s important to be “caught up,” of course.
Don't Nickel and Dime Yourself
I’m taking a humorous look (well, you be the judge) at how I spent an hour of my Saturday to show how easy it is to nickel and dime yourself with time wasters, only to wonder how the day got away from you. A minute here and a minute there can add up.
If you want or need some real advice on time management, I recommend Tony Robbins (no affiliations here). One of the things that I learned from his books and CDs a number of years ago was the idea that asking yourself the right question will point your brain in the direction that you want to go. And so on days like the Saturday that I described above, I ask myself, “How do I spend my time?”
I always follow up with this question: “How can I use my time wisely right now?” I use these two questions almost as mantras or meditations, repeating them gently or forcefully in my head (gently probably is better). I suppose you could say them out loud too, but people might think you’re a little strange.
I try to let the answers flow into my head without too much judgment. After all, maybe what I needed most at that moment in time was to “veg out” to a TV show or some pointless YouTube videos. There’s nothing wrong with embracing some well-earned downtime. Oftentimes, however, the question helps me realize that if I can make time for watching videos of the San Diego chicken, I have time for things that might be a bit more fulfilling and rewarding, personally and professionally.
How do you spend your time?
Stay safe, my friends.