I recently read an article about making the most of your weekends that really struck a nerve. We're always complaining that the weekend is too short. It certainly seems that way! There never seems to be enough time to do the things we really want to do. If, however, we are truly honest with ourselves, most of us would have to admit that we don't make the best use of the time we do have. For example, we don't have to spend Friday night in front of the television. Sure, we have plenty of legitimate excuses for doing just that -- we're tired from a long work week, we deserve a break from our constant commitments, we need some time to ourselves, etc. All of these things are probably true and if you feel strongly about your Friday night television time then have it, by all means. But if you decide to use your time this way, you are not in a position to later lament that you haven't seen your friends in months becaue you "haven't had the time." Nor can you honestly say that the reason you haven't had a quiet night alone with your significant other in so long is because you're both "extremely busy." Furthermore, you are being less than truthful when you tell your parents that the reason you haven't come to visit (or called) in so long is because you've been so busy with work and other responsibilities.
I'm as guilty as anyone of making excuses for not getting around to things I claim are important to me. It's human nature. Our behavior at a given point in time is strongly influenced by - among other things - how we feel at that particular moment. That is why, despite our best intentions, so many of us never make it to the gym after work, put off projects until the last possible minute, or knowingly do something we're sure to regret later. So while spending time with our friends and family is important to us, it is often overshadowed by our emotional impulses. "I know I should spend some time with so-and-so," we tell ourselves. "But I'm just so tired. The only thing I feel like doing right now is sitting here on the couch."
Most of us know that time is a precious (and nonrenewable) resource. Still, most of us squander our time as if it were of no value at all. Ilona Boniwell conducted a study on how people use their time. She discovered that while most people do not see watching television as a meaningful activity, they still spend a significant amount of time doing it, to the tune of about fourteen hours per week. I imagine we'll begin to see similar studies about how much time we spend online.
I've often pointed out that no one on their deathbed says, "I wish I'd spent more time at work" or "I wish I'd spent more time watching t.v." I think about this whenever I'm tempted to turn down an invitation to get together with my friends or family. Sure, I might be tired, but I can always go to bed early another night. When I'm at the end of my life looking back, will I say, "I wish I'd gotten more sleep?" Probably not.