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Killing Time

I did a media call for a journalist on the subject of “time management” recently. When I heard the topic, I was worried: one, I don’t think I’m that great at time management … and two, I’m not even sure such a thing exists.

You can’t manage time; it exists independently of any choice you make. I tend to think more about managing energy and managing projects—as for time itself, that’s another story altogether.

Yet, we all have to make judgment calls on where we should spend our time. I am an advocate for spending it deliberately: if you’ve got a spare hour, put it to good use. Or enjoy it by deliberately choosing to chill out. But don’t waste it, and don’t kill it. “Killing time” … what an unfortunate phrase.


Time is a jealous lover. If you mistreat it, you can start over, but you never get it back. It’s kind of like forgiveness without forgetting—it’s over, it’s OK, but it’s going to be different now.

Unfortunately, inertia and I are well acquainted. On any given day, I can choose to become the most informed New York Times reader. I can ensure that no one will know more about Frequent Flyer programs than me. I can attempt to rule the Twitterverse.

And I will get nothing done.

Alternatively, we can use the time entrusted to us. We can count down the 1,440 minutes in each day and put them to good use. Which will it be?

Sometimes it helps to put things in perspective: what one thing will you get done today? If nothing else happens, how will you help others while pursuing your own dreams? (These goals are not mutually exclusive.)

When you find yourself with time to spare, don’t kill it. Respect it.


Photo by Matthew